Split Rock Lighthouse State Park acquired 19 acres in late December, thanks in large part to the efforts of the non-profit Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota.
The Parks & Trails Council bought two parcels of land overlooking Split Rock Lighthouse and Lake Superior for close to $1 million, and then made the land available to the Minnesota DNR’s Division of Parks and Trails. Funding for the land purchase was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) and capital bonding. The land purchase brings the state park’s total area to 2,089 acres.
“It’s two parcels, one on each side of Highway 61, but you can see the lighthouse from the land and one of the parcels, a parcel on the north side of Highway 61 is an area that the DNR has indicated a desire to build a campground, so it’s very important to protect that particular parcel.”
That’s Brett Feldman, director of The Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota, a grassroots membership organization working on behalf of Minnesota’s parks and trails since 1954.
“The North Shore has been an area where we’ve worked very hard for a number of years,” says Feldman, “and we’re especially pleased about what we’ve made happen at Split Rock Lighthouse this last year. One of the unfortunate things in Minnesota, and anywhere else in the nation for that matter, is that there’s never enough money, in particular, for our state park system. The DNR, the entity that’s charged with managing it, does not have available funds when parcels like this go up for sale.”
The property is adjacent to a historic wayside rest on Highway 61 that overlooks the lighthouse and Lake Superior, and that at one time was being considered for condominium development.
“The landowner had the potential to develop the land,” says Feldman, “which we would never want to see happen in that area. So organizations like ours, we have a land fund that we prioritize to try to be able to acquire very high natural resource-rich parcels that are critical to the future of Minnesota’s park and trail system.”
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park was the sixth most visited of 73 state parks and recreation areas in Minnesota last year, with more than 324,000 total visitors and nearly 10,000 overnight guests. The historic lighthouse at the park, which is operated by the Minnesota Historical Society, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010.
For more information about Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, call the park visitor center at 218-226-6377. To learn more about the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota, go to www.parksandtrails.org.