Kilen Woods State Park Management

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invites the public to share their thoughts—either in person or online—on how to best manage Kilen Woods State Park in the future. While there are no immediate plans to change how the park is managed, the DNR would like to explore possible management alternatives as part of implementing the State Parks and Trails System Plan.


Kilen Woods State Park was authorized in 1945 and now consists of 202 acres along the Des Moines River. Visitors can stay overnight at one of 4 walk-in campsites or 32 semi-modern campsites, 11 of which have electricity. The park also offers 5 miles of hiking trails, public fishing and canoe access to the Des Moines River, a shower building, and a reservable picnic shelter. Prairie Bush Clover Scientific and Natural Area, which is located within the state park boundary, protects a large population of the federally threatened prairie bush clover.

In 2015, DNR Division of Parks and Trails developed a system plan for advancing new approaches to managing units of the state’s outdoor recreation system. Each state park was placed in one of three investment groups. Kilen Woods State Park is in the Rustic investment group. Rustic parks will provide basic amenities and more self-directed services, while serving more local users than other parks. If appropriate, the division will consider transferring rustic parks to other entities for management.

Management Alternatives

The DNR would like to explore whether an alternative management strategy might better serve the recreating public. At this time, there are no immediate plans to change how Kilen Woods State Park is managed. The DNR is seeking early public input on how some kind of alternative management option might impact or enhance the recreational experiences at the park. There might be several alternative scenarios to explore, including a hybrid model of state and county land administration. The DNR manages land according to the Outdoor Recreation Act (ORA), and has other land management alternatives in its toolbox to explore, such as the Scientific and Natural Area status that currently exists within the statutory boundaries of the park.

Public Input

The DNR would like to hear public input on how the park is currently used; what amenities and values are most important to citizens and park users; and how different future management options might better serve the recreating public. You can submit input until Friday, December 16, by completing an online questionnaire. You are also invited to speak with DNR and Jackson County staff in-person at an open house meeting on:

November 17, from 6:30-8:00 pm
Jackson County Library, Community Room
311 3rd Street
Jackson, MN 56143

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is DNR considering changing how Kilen Woods State Park is managed?

The Division of Parks and Trails has limited resources to manage the state park and trails system, and is challenged to maintain high-quality facilities and services in some locations, such as Kilen Woods. We are exploring whether another entity, or entities, may be able to better operate the existing recreational facilities, manage the park's resources and meet public expectations into the future.

How does the Minnesota State Parks and Trails System Plan guide this decision?

In 2015, the DNR Division of Parks and Trails completed the Minnesota State Parks and Trails System Plan to advance new approaches to managing parts in the state's outdoor recreation system. Kilen Woods State Park was designated as a Rustic park in the system plan. Investments in rustic parks will emphasize providing basic amenities and self-directed services. The plan encourages the DNR consider alternative strategies for better managing rustic parks, if appropriate.

How will previous park funding impact management of Kilen Woods?

Kilen Woods State Park was purchased using funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The Land and Water Conservation Fund Act was enacted by Congress in 1964. Projects funded by LWCF must be retained and used solely for outdoor recreation in perpetuity. The park could be transferred to another unit of government if that agency agrees to fulfill the LWCF requirements. Converting the use of these lands to anything other than outdoor recreation must be approved by the National Park Service.

How can I learn more?

If you would like additional information, please contact:

Phil Nasby, Parks and Trails Area Supervisor
[email protected]