Itasca State Park open to visitorsby Tom Robertson, Minnesota Public Radio
Bemidji, Minn. — Officials at Itasca State Park say the park in north central Minnesota is back open for business Thursday following the 20-day state government shutdown.
With the exception of the restaurant and lodge and a few cabins at the park, officials say visitors are welcome to return. There was no storm damage or vandalism at the park, so campers will be allowed back in as well. Officials said it appears all state parks across the northwest part of Minnesota escaped damage.
Lori Dowling, the DNR's northwest regional director, said agency employees began their day with a flag-raising ceremony at regional headquarters in Bemidji.
"It's good to be back and a lot of people are happy [and] still kind of reeling with some of the feelings from the shutdown," Dowling said. "But the general sense is people are very happy to be back to work."
Dowling said the biggest hurdle for many workers coming back from the shutdown has been getting computers and Internet services back up and running.
"A lot of us should have wrote down our passwords before we left three weeks ago, so it's been interesting getting our Internet up to speed," she said.
DNR officials say most state parks will reopen over the next couple of days. The agency's online camping reservation system won't be running until Tuesday.