State park permit deal

By: Northland Outdoors

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a deal for motorcycle owners - unlimited access to the scenery and special events at 72 state parks and recreation areas for a year for $20. The state park motorcycle permit fits in a wallet, unlike the standard $25 vehicle permit that sticks to a windshield.

Demand for these new permits has risen steadily since the DNR began issuing them in January 2007. Sales totaled 448 in the first year and more than doubled to 1,066 in 2008. So far this year, the DNR has sold more than 1,000 motorcycle permits.

Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails division, thinks
even more motorcyclists would buy the permit if they knew about it.

“Because the motorcycle permit is relatively new, we’re still trying to raise awareness,” he said.

Proceeds from permit sales help maintain and improve the natural resources, facilities, education, and outreach programs at Minnesota’s state parks and recreation areas.

Here are a few motorcycle anecdotes and tips from DNR staff:

* Garry Barvels, park manager at Whitewater State Park, has been working to promote the motorcycle version of the state parks permit. He recently sold several of them when he met with a Rochester-based Harley-Davidson motorcycle club, which is having a contest to see how many of the club’s members can get to all of the Minnesota state parks in 2009.

* Larry Peterson, DNR acquisition and development manager and avid motorcyclist, suggested that motorcyclists seeking new routes to explore start with Minnesota’s Scenic Byways. “Lots of the Scenic Byways feature state parks and trails along the way,” said Peterson, “so those are great places to stop, stretch your legs, and check out the views.” Scenic Byway maps and other trip-planning information can be found online.

* Before you hit the road, visit the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center online, a one-stop shop for riding safety tips and other essential information from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Motorcycle permits can be purchased at state parks, at the DNR License Center, at REI metro locations, or by calling the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367). Parks are open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Larger image available online.

Caption: Intern Katie Smith checks the motorcycle passes of Courtland Nelson (right), director of the Parks and Trails Division at the Minnesota DNR, and Bill Weber of Grand Forks at the entrance to Itasca State Park. Credit: MN DNR.

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