To the Editor:


We need your help! A plan is being put forth by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that includes sweeping changes to Fort Ridgely State Park and Historic Site at a very high price tag.

As Board Members of the Friends of Fort Ridgely, a non-profit group dedicated to preserving and promoting Fort Ridgely, we vehemently oppose these changes.

The DNR proposes to move the park ranger station from its current location at the park entrance to the Museum at the Historic Site on the far west end of the park. The plan is to take over and inhabit one-half of the museum building (the only remaining structure from the original fort). There will be no public parking next to the museum except for handicap. For any customer service the public must park by the picnic shelter parking lot and walk all the way across the ball diamonds and parade grounds. Imagine doing this when the temperature is 20 below zero.

This move carries a price tag in excess of $700,000. This is ludicrous!

The current location of the park station is where it is because it works. As people enter Fort Ridgely they must stop to purchase park stickers, camping fees, golf rentals and green fees, winter sliding tubes, building rentals, purchase souvenirs and other services.

To move this station would create more confusion for the public, and wouldn’t it require more man hours to continually keep checking the parking lots to verify all cars have a permit?

Moving into the historic site would detract from the historic aspect of the Commissary building and the surrounding ruins. The Fort Ridgely Historic Site is one of the most important sites in the entire country. The story it tells should not be interfered with by the DNR.

In the past the Friends of Fort Ridgely have lobbied for various park improvements such as the campground road and more accessible bathrooms. This would be a better use of the money to benefit the public.

These plans will move forward unless the public lets their voice be heard. Write or call your legislator to inform them of the plan and ask them to help put an end to this ill-conceived idea.

If you would like more information you are welcome to contact any of the board members:

President John Fritsche, New Ulm
VP Harold Windschitl, Sleepy Eye
Secretary Tom Runck, Fairfax
Treasurer Paula Weir, Fairfax
Director Dave Nelson, Fairfax
Director John Sommer, Gibbon
Director Dwayne Witt, Sleepy Eye
Director Lucy Timm, Fairfax
Director Jeff Daniels, Fairfax