May 23, 2019 06:19 PM
Fort Snelling State Park will likely remain closed until at least July, officials said.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said Thursday the park will remain closed through the month of June due to persistent flooding and damage.
The park is one of the state's busiest and most popular for hikers, bikers, birders and school groups, with more than 400,000 visitors each year, the DNR said.
"This is typically a very busy time of year for us with school field trips and with the weather finally getting nice again," said Assistant Park Manager Nick Bartels
Depending on weather conditions and work progress, the park could remain in effect until sometime in July, according to the DNR.
"We are asking the public to not enter the park at this time. This is important for their own safety and allows workers a safe place to complete repairs and clean-up. Emergency responders would have difficulty locating people in the closed park if needed," Fort Snelling State Park manager Kelli Bruns said in a news release.
The park originally closed in March.
This is a big deal. According to Bartels, the last time the park had to be shut down was back in 2014, which only lasted for a month. It's already been shut down about two months now, and Bartels said they are facing some big challenges.
"I think that's a long time," said Chuck Woldum, a Bloomington resident, referring to how long the park will be closed.
But 2019 will likely be a different story.
Bartels said, "We had an extremely heavy snowpack during our late season snowfall events that we experienced, and we've had continued rainfall events since then."
The river reaching one of its highest ever crests and has remained at flood stage ever since.
Temporary road repair fixes totaling $75,000 to $100,000, and crews haven't even been able to access Picnic and Park islands to estimate those repair costs.
"At least for the next couple of weeks, we're not supposed to drop back below flood stage, so that carries a lot of sediment into the park onto our trails, and we'll have some significant clean up work that will need to be done," Bartels said.
Woldum added, "Oh not good, too many picnic places will be lost."
Updated: May 23, 2019 06:19 PM
Created: May 23, 2019 03:19 PM
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