— The 2023 camping season went well at the
Parks, even though revenue and the number of campers did fall at some of the parks.
“There were many different things that affected 2023 financially,” Kandiyohi County Administrator Kelsey Baker said at the Oct. 17 meeting of the
. Those issues included the increase in camping rates, weather and the return of many other recreational opportunities as society got back to normal after two summers impacted by the pandemic.
Despite the drop in revenue, it was the Parks Committee’s recommendation that there be no additional rate increases or changes to the parks policy for 2024. The Kandiyohi County Board agreed and approved the 2024 parks fees and policy unanimously at their meeting. The last time rates were raised was in 2022.
“The county does not make a lot of revenue on our county parks. We break even most years,” Baker said, adding the parks are an amenity the county provides to its residents and visitors.
Reservations for the 2024 camping season go online at 10 a.m. Jan. 24 and the reservation system can be accessed through the
. Reservations can be made only online.
“Same process as this year, for the online reservations,” Baker said.
Despite the reduction in campers and revenue this last season, the County Board isn’t regretting its
. Commissioner Steve Gardner said the county rates prior to the increase were lower than what private businesses were charging, tipping the balance in the county’s favor — Gardner wasn’t a fan of that.
“Bringing these rates to be more in line what what is out there, we addressed a sense of fairness,” Gardner said. “We frankly also addressed the need to invest in the infrastructure of those parks.”
There is an opportunity for the county to bring more campers to its parks next year, as the
will be closed for renovations.
“Perhaps an alternative will be one of our county parks,” said Commissioner Roger Imdieke.
Baker said one of the county’s priorities this winter and into next camping season is to increase its marketing of the county parks.
“I’m excited with what we will come up with,” Baker said.
The county will also continue improvements at the county parks.
One project that will be delayed going forward is the new bathhouse at Big Kandiyohi Lake East. According to a statement read out by Imdieke at the Oct. 17 meeting, and also posted on the
, the project is within the boundaries of a Minnesota Archaeological Site — 21KH0023.
It was uncovered that the area in question was once used by the Indigenous population as a burial site and is revered by them. Due to this, the county will now be working with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council to make sure state law is being followed and to look for options to move the project forward while still being respectful of Native history.
“This is common all over,” Imdieke said, adding Public Works deals with these issues quite regularly, as do counties across the state and it is not necessarily a big deal. “It is something that we have to be respectful of.”