Crow Wing board discusses cabin travel during stay at home order

Residents have contacted commissioners with concerns about seasonal residents traveling to shelter in the lakes area.

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The Crow Wing County Historic Courthouse is located at 326 Laurel St., Brainerd. The Crow Wing County Board meets on the third floor. Chelsey Perkins / Brainerd Dispatch

Crow Wing County commissioners reported constituents are urging them to take a stance on seasonal visitors sheltering in place in the Brainerd lakes area.

Board members briefly discussed the matter Friday, April 3, at an emergency meeting after the topic came up in a letter submitted by a Crow Wing County resident. County Administrator Tim Houle read the letter during the open forum portion of the meeting, typically reserved for in-person comments but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the public is restricted from attending at this time.

Abby Geotz of Crosby asked Chairman Paul Koering and the board to issue a statement to prevent, or at least discourage, part-time residents from traveling to their cabins. Geotz cited Gov. Tim Walz’s clarification in his stay at home order was intended to discourage such travel.

“Although the executive order doesn’t prohibit traveling to or from a cabin, the Governor strongly urges all Minnesotans to stay in their primary residences,” the governor’s website states. “Staying home helps protect your neighbors from spreading COVID-19 and also avoids crowding rural medical facilities. Avoiding this kind of travel makes us all safer and healthier.”

Commissioner Rosemary Franzen said she’d received a number of comments from residents sharing similar sentiments, as did Commissioner Steve Barrows.


“I would encourage the people that do come up to their cabins to bring their supplies from the Twin Cities or wherever they’re originated from,” Barrows said. “And I would also ask that they be considerate of people in this district, and what we’re facing. So be considerate of one another.”

Board members had not explicitly commented on the matter previously, although Houle broached the topic at an emergency meeting March 24.

“This is not great for virus containment, but there is really no prohibition on travel within the state of Minnesota. And so there’s not much that we can do at this point in time to stop that,” Houle said at that meeting. “We are also beginning to see the return migration of snowbirds and some folks with second homes here coming to shelter in our community. I guess that’s not particularly surprising.

“ … We need to simply practice good social distancing. And so, we would like to send that message out not just to our residents, but also to our seasonal folks. … We still have the advantage of a rural area, and we have a lot of elbow room.”

CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or . Follow on Twitter at .
Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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