News release: DNR to close Upper Sioux Agency State Park in February

January 10, 2024

As part of its work to transfer the land at Upper Sioux Agency State Park to the Upper Sioux Community, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will close the park to the public on Feb. 16, 2024.

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. This land is the site of starvation and death of 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.

“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.”

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

“I appreciate the support and dedication that park staff, the Friends of Upper Sioux Agency State Park group, local community members and visitors have provided Upper Sioux Agency State Park over the years,” said Ann Pierce, DNR parks and trails division director. “We are also excited about the possibilities for future recreation opportunities in the Minnesota River Valley.”

The park is open to visitors until 10 p.m. on Feb. 15. The park will close to visitors by 8 a.m. on Feb. 16. 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.

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