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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota state parks officials say their efforts to connect people with the outdoors are paying off in permit sales and visits.

Sales of year-round state park permits topped 136,000 last year, up 2 percent from 2012 and 21 percent from 2008. The Department of Natural Resources also says sales of one-day permits have increased 15 percent over the past five years. And overnight stays are up 10 percent since 2008.

Courtland Nelson of the DNR's Parks and Trails Division says the increase is gratifying given that last year got off to a slow start at state parks due to the cold, wet spring. He says the upward trend in Minnesota comes at a time when national parks and many other states are reporting significant declines in visits and overnight stays.

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