All of them, starting with our crown jewel: Lake Vermilion
In February 2018, a bill (HF 3142 / SF3063) was drafted by Rep. Fabian and Rep. Heintzeman to allow visitors to operate all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in campgrounds and access routes at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Mine and Hayes Lake State Parks. If this bill passes it would be the very first time that the legislature has indicated that the law defining state parks could be interpreted to allow for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). As such, it dismantles the very definition that has kept state parks as places of conservation. There would be little grounds to stop ATVs from being allowed in all the other state parks.
This latest bill is part of a persistent effort by a small group of ATV users to open state parks for their use. Starting in 2010, some ATV users successfully influenced the master planning process for Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground State Park to include a recommendation for ATV trail connections and allowance of ATVs in a campground, even though such use went against the state park rules.
Similarly, in 2017 a draft of the Taconite State Trail Master Plan hinted at the possibility of allowing ATVs and other off-highway vehicles on the trail as it went through Bear Head Lake and McCarthy Beach State Parks. We responded with strong opposition to this suggestion and the final plan was much clearer about the prohibition of ATVs in state parks.
Last year the legislature passed a $1 million appropriation for a new OHV trail “linking… Bear Head Lake and Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Parks.”
In 2014 the DNR began the process of revising state park rules, with interest in responding to changing visitor needs such as OHVs. Rule changes often take years, however, and as yet no proposed changes have been made.