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DNR continues and expands Minnesota State Parks Library Program

Libraries located in Minnesota’s low-income communities will have more access to state park passes

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will continue and expand its State Park Library Program for another three years, through June 2025.

The program will grow from 71 to 117 participating libraries, offering 175 passes statewide for checkout to Minnesotans living in lower income communities.

“This has been a great addition to Kitchigami Regional Library System services,” Carol Christensen, KRLS Legacy coordinator, said in a news release. “With branches in Bemidji, Blackduck, Brainerd, Cass Lake, Park Rapids, Pine River and Wadena participating in the program, we have a large number of parks people can visit for free using the pass.”

Library programs like this have become popular across the country, with California launching a new program in 2022. These programs provide opportunities for individuals or families with limited income to access their state parks free of charge.

Park passes, life jackets, fishing kits, outdoor programming, trail systems and other programs all await use at local libraries.

The 2021 pilot program saw more than 1,500 park pass checkouts in the first six months. In a survey of pass users, only 36% said they would have purchased an annual state park vehicle permit. This would fill a gap of about 900 visits to state parks that would not have otherwise happened during that time.

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“It has been wonderful to see the impact this program has had on Minnesotans,” Arielle Courtney, DNR Parks and Trails partnership consultant, said in a news release. “We are working hard to address the many barriers that prevent people from getting to state parks, and this program is a step toward making it easier for everyone to enjoy our public lands.”

Program details

  • Passes are good for seven days and must be displayed in the vehicle’s dashboard on entering a park or recreation area.
  • Passes can be recycled after seven days; no return necessary.
  • Between one and four passes are available for checkout at each library.
  • For a complete list of participating libraries, visit mndnr.gov/librarypass. 
  • Passes are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • For more information, call your local library or KRLS headquarters 218-587-2171.
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