State parks might close if Minn. gov't shuts down

Efforts to reach a budget agreement continue at the Capitol, but at least one state department has begun looking at its plan for a partial-government shutdown.

State lawmakers are trying to meet a May 23 deadline for resolving a projected $5 billion budget deficit. If the impasse continues through the end of the fiscal year on June 30, then non-essential government functions begin shutting down.

Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr said his staff has already dusted off a shutdown plan written in 2005 that would include the closure of state parks.

"July 1 is two months away," he said. "But we won't get serious until we get close to the end of the session and see whether or not there's some likelihood there will be some success."

Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, chair of the House natural resources committee, said he's still working toward a timely budget agreement.

"We don't want that to take place," McNamara said. "We want the state parks open and not worry, as we had in '05, wondering 'are they going to be open or not?'"

The budget bill that McNamara is currently working on includes a provision to keep state parks open during future government shutdowns.

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