Back in business: Parks open, permits sold, lottery open
It didn't take long for the services and amenities that Minnesotans have been without for the last few weeks to open back up after the state government shutdown ended early last week.
While the state parks staggered their openings over the last couple days, as of this weekend, most of them are now fully open.
Afton, Lake Bronson, Camden, Upper Sioux Agency, Flandreau, Blue Mounds, Wild River and St. Croix will take longer to reopen due to structure damages during July storms. St. Croix will be closed indefinitely due to more extensive damage.
A full list of state parks and when they are open can be found at http://www.mndnr.gov/reopen.
Employees of the Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the state parks, returned to work Thursday, but reservations for the state parks will not be available on the ReserveMN system until Tuesday.
That delay is because of a backlog of reservations that must be refunded.
The reason for the staggered opening dates for state parks was to ensure downed trees were cleared from the July storms, campsites and trails were safe, and that the restrooms and other amenities such as electric and water were in working condition.
More good news for anglers and hunters: Licenses are available for purchase again. The DNR's electronic licensing system is up and running for boat and other licenses to be renewed and licenses can be purchased either online at www.mndnr.gov or by phone.
"We wanted to make sure that was one of our first operations to start up," said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.
Getting fishing licenses were a concern for several resorts in the area since Otter Tail County County is known for great fishing.
The DNR website also has information about other permits, state timber sales, state forest campgrounds, and environmental review projects.
Department of Transportation
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is also open once again, and also planning on opening services in stages.
Rest areas are opening as soon as crews check facilities for any storm damages and get them cleaned up and ready for travelers. Most were opened by this weekend.
MnPASS, traffic cameras and freeway incident response trucks are up and running.
Road construction projects will take longer to get started again and complete, although MnDOT said it will be in contact with contractors to get work started again as soon as possible.
"We know the contractors are anxious to get their employees back to work, and we want to do whatever we can to make up for the disruption to our schedules," said MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel. "This is the height of our construction season and we want to make up for this lost time."
The Minnesota State Lottery is open and ready for ticket purchases and to redeem winners.
The lottery is even taking advantage of the shutdown and is offering player promotions in the upcoming weeks.
For more information on the lottery and upcoming promotions, visit www.mnlottery.com.