Park service shares action items to address concerns in Voyageurs National Park

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To address concerns from resort owners and residents about policing in Voyageurs National Park, the superintendent released a list of action items.

Superintendent Bob DeGross released the letter last week. It thanked those who participated in recent listening sessions. And he wrote that he recognizes there are opportunities to improve communication with park visitors, neighbors, and area business owners.

He said he’s directing park staff to implement the following 8 action items.

  1. Park rangers will visit in-person with owners and staff of willing area resorts/businesses. New staff will be accompanied by staff who have years of experience.
  2. Park staff will develop ways to increase community-oriented enforcement to foster positive visitor contacts.
  3. Park rangers will immediately introduce themselves and provide reason for contact, when contacting a visitor for enforcement or inspection.
  4. Actively work on solutions to limit the potential for stopping or checking the same vessel multiple times in short succession, unless there are observed violations.
  5. Staff will explore the option of an early or pre-season vessel safety inspection, to limit the likelihood of multiple follow-up inspections.
  6. Supervisors will continue evaluating ranger field performance.
  7. Staff will communicate trends monthly related to visitation, law enforcement activities, etc.
  8. Improve the communications about the roles of NPS visitor and resource protection rangers.

DeGross went on to say that business owners can work with the park, on things like sharing pre-trip messaging, sharing safety messages, and encouraging compliance with vessel safety laws.

He mentioned that during recent safety inspections, 19 of 20 vessels checked had safety violations.

Also, lawmakers Rep. Rob Ecklund and Senator Tom Bakk have sent a letter to the federal delegation. In it, they are asking for support endorsing a civilian law enforcement review board.

Ecklund told us that based on Senator Bakk’s recommendation, he’s also having house staff look at the possibility of bringing back the Voyageurs Park Citizen Commission.