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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steven Jacob (R)

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Jacob and Drazkowski statement on overwhelming public opposition to proposed national park in southern Minnesota

Sunday, June 18, 2023

On June 15, State Representative Steven Jacob (R-Altura) and State Senator Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) hosted a highly attended public meeting in Kellogg to discuss the 2023 legislative session as well as the controversial Driftless National Park proposal in southern Minnesota. More than 250 concerned area residents attended the meeting, with nearly unanimous opposition to the national park proposal.  


"Our community has shown one of the strongest displays of working together that I have witnessed in the 12 years that I have represented them on both the Winona County Board and in the Minnesota House of Representatives,” Rep. Jacob said. “The love these people have for this area was on full display at the Kellogg town hall as the community shared story after story of the blood, sweat and tears they have poured into making this the beautiful area it is. One thing they made clear is that they love local control almost as much as they love the community they have built here."


“Very rarely, do you see an issue where unanimity emerges,” Sen. Drazkowski said. “From this meeting and the overwhelming number of calls and emails I have received, it is abundantly clear that with this issue the opposition is about as close to unanimous as you’ll ever see. The people have spoken in one voice, and that voice said that this is a very bad idea.”


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources opposes the proposed park. Residents who attended the meeting expressed a number of concerns regarding the proposal, including how it would affect property values and the likelihood of dramatically higher property taxes; the impact on the environment caused by potentially hundreds of thousands of additional visitors, the impact on Whitewater State Park and Dorer Memorial Forest, and the potential of private property being taken for the park.


At one point during the meeting, the Driftless National Park organizer, Sean Macaday, acknowledged the strong opposition to the park and said the conversation gave him a lot to think about and that he would sleep on it. He also said he would consider withdrawing the proposal altogether.