A Minnesota Senate committee has advanced legislation to establish a new state park at Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota.
The measure lifts a cap on state bonds to allow the purchase of the property from U.S. Steel, and it consolidates management with the adjacent Sudan Underground Mine State Park.
Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, told members of the Senate Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Budget Division Tuesday that he's the only Iron Range area legislator supporting the purchase.
Bakk, a DFL candidate for governor, said he's not even sure if the land will become a park.
"It is a very legitimate concern that we're just going to take 3,000 acres of land, turn it into state land, because there currently is no money for development," said Bakk. "I'm going to be pretty disappointed if every two years, whoever represents that district has to come down here and beg for bonding money to buy a couple of picnic tables, to develop maybe one camp site."
The Legislative Auditor recently warned lawmakers that the Department of Natural Resources lacks the resources to manage its current land holdings.