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DNR announces open house on Lake Vermilion State Park construction

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division will hold an open house to provide updates on development plans for Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division will hold an open house to provide updates on development plans for Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park.

The open house will be held at the Tower Civic Center, Tuesday, Sept. 1, from 5 to 7 p.m. at 402 Pine Street, in Tower.

DNR staff will be on hand to provide construction updates on the new campground, public water access and water treatment facility, and answer questions about future development plans. The public is invited to participate and provide written comments.

"We are looking forward to sharing our progress to date and hearing feedback from visitors and residents," Park Manager Jim Essig said in a release. "This is the largest state park development project in the last 30 years, and we want the public to be involved in the development."

When complete, the park's main campground will accommodate:

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-168 people at 33 drive-in campsites, where amenities will include electricity, flush toilets, showers and Wi-Fi, plus a water access site that will connect campers to boating and fishing opportunities on Lake Vermilion.

-60 people at two group camps designed for tents and recreational vehicles, with a sanitation building that includes flush toilets and showers.

-30 people at a semi-primitive group camp with vault toilets.

Future construction phases, pending funding, will include a lodge, trail system, cabins and nature play areas, as well as additional campsites accessible by hiking, boating and all-terrain vehicles. When fully developed, the park will get an estimated 250,000 visitors annually, bringing an estimated $18.2 million in spending to the region.

In 2008, the Minnesota Legislature authorized Lake Vermilion State Park and set aside $20 million in bonding to purchase, plan and develop it. The purchase agreement for the 3,000-acre property was signed in May 2010, and a master plan for the park was developed with much public input. Because the new park is co-managed with the adjacent Soudan Underground Mine State Park, the legislature changed the name to Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park during the 2014 legislative session.

The park has been open since 2010 for recreation such as hiking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and geocaching. Interpretive staff have offered occasional programs, including a BioBlitz that involved citizens in the identification of plants, animals and insects at the park.

See www.mndnr.gov/stateparks for more information about the park, including the master plan.

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