Wisconsin campgrounds benefit from Minnesota's government shutdown
The Fourth of July holiday weekend saw an influx of campers arrive from Minnesota, whose travel plans to Minnesota state parks unraveled after the state government shut down. In failing to reach a budget deal, Minnesota's governor and legislature caused the state to suspend operations, including its state parks.
Wisconsin campground owners say the turn of events left many outdoor buffs in Minnesota without a place to set camp, but the immediate result was a quick and welcome boost to their bottom line.
"You just go ahead and tell'em that Wisconsin is `open for business.' Come see us!" laughs Lori Severson, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners.
WACO has nearly 200 members operating private campsites across the state, including many in the Indian Head region that borders Minnesota. Severson says after the shutdown, her organization was flooded with " a few hundred" calls from Minnesotans and Iowans, wanting a place to camp.
"We're sad to say that unfortunately, we probably lost some of the folks just that could not get through," admits Severson. "But we did our best at bringing in additional staffers and casual volunteers and workers who helped us man the phones, so that helped tremendously."
Meanwhile, Bob Manwell, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources, says it doesn't look like there was any immediate change for Wisconsin's state parks. He says most of the time people reserve their campgrounds well in advance, especially for the Fourth of July weekend.
"That said," continues Manwell, "it's a little bit more difficult for us to have on the spot data, for people who might come for day visits or other reasons, or who may pick up on the few "show and go" campsites that we have available as part of our system."
Manwell and Severson both say it'll be interesting to see how long Minnesota's shutdown will last, but that displaced campers are always welcome here.