The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources made an announcement this week that involves its work to transfer the land at Upper Sioux Agency State Park, in Granite Falls, Minnesota, to the Upper Sioux Community.

According to the DNR, the Upper Sioux Community has had a longstanding request to the State of Minnesota to return the land at Upper Sioux Agency State Park to the Community.

History Of The Land

They say the longstanding request was made because this land was the site of starvation and death of the Dakota people during the summer of 1862 when the U.S. Government failed to provide food promised to the Dakota by treaty.

The return of the land to the Upper Sioux Community was directed by the Minnesota Legislature in the 2023 session, with support from the Minnesota DNR and the Walz-Flanagan Administration.

When Will Upper Sioux Agency State Park Close?

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will officially close Upper Sioux Agency State Park to the public on Friday, February 16, 2024. Until then, the park will remain open to visitors until 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 15.

The park will close to visitors by 8:00 a.m. on February 16 and once closed, there will be no public access to the park, and no services will be available. Gates will be closed, facilities including restrooms will be locked, informational and wayfinding signs will be removed, and trails will not be maintained.

“We look forward to returning this land to the Upper Sioux Community, as continuing to operate it as a recreational use site is inconsistent with its unique and profound history,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “We also understand how important access to public lands and outdoor recreation are to Minnesotans. DNR is committed to ensuring high-quality recreation opportunities are available within the Minnesota River Valley, and we will continue to collaborate with the public and partners to expand and improve outdoor recreation options in the area.”

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The DNR notes that through the summer and fall of 2023, they engaged the public to identify potential investments in outdoor recreation that could be made in the area after the park closes. DNR staff, members of the local community, local government officials, park visitors, and interested park and conservation-focused organizations have since submitted ideas and proposals, which are now being evaluated by DNR with input from partners.

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