DNR releases plan to pay for Lake Vermilion park

Map of Lake Vermilion
This map shows the outline of the proposed Lake Vermilion state park, in black. The existing Soudan Mine State Park is outlined in green.
Map courtesy of the Minnesota DNR

The proposal would dedicate $6 million from the state's Environmental Trust Fund each of the next three years. That money, which is generated from lottery sales, would then pay the debt service on more than $97 million in state bonds.

DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten says about $48 million of the borrowing could be used to buy the 2,500 acres of potential park land from U.S. Steel.

"What's new and different here is trying to be a little bit creative in how we manage the Environmental Trust Fund, to use that to pay off those future bond debts, to leverage those dollars today, put those dollars in the system today so we can go out and make major investments," Holsten said.

Holsten said the other half of the money would go to other public land acquisition.

After the I-35W bridge collapse and flood in the southeast part of the state, Holsten says the plan would help the DNR reduce its borrowing request in the next three years.

He says legislators will be under great pressure next session to address many state needs in a bonding bill.

"They're going to have to do some creative management and they need ideas like this to accomplish it," Holsten said.

Holsten says the DNR won't know the exact price of the proposed park land until January.

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