Officials unsure of damage in Voyageurs National Park

By KBJR News 1

July 10, 2014 Updated Jul 10, 2014 at 9:51 AM CDT

International Falls, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- While Voyageurs National Park remains open, all of the park's backcountry trails, campsites, day use sites, and day use boat rentals remain closed due to flooding.
The park service is still waiting for water levels to go down before damage can be assessed.

Flooding is very much apparent on Rainy Lake and the surrounding lake system that makes up Voyageurs National Park and while the park and many other businesses remain open... the back country is not.

"Because of the flooding of all the lakes in the interior, the pathways to those spots for camping or boating in the interior have been blocked and are unsafe" said Park Superintendent, Michael Ward.

The back country trails go through bogs and marshy areas and park officials say those areas are up to three feet above normal levels.

Water levels continue to fall, although very slowly. Park Officials say their hands are tied until water levels go back to normal.

"We can't really assess what's happened until after the water drops, so as things start being exposed we take a look at them and make sure they're still safe and then we'll clean them up and get them ready for use" said Chief Ranger, Chuck Remus.

"We often place large planks and things like that over areas that are normally marshy or boggy. We have no idea what kinda shape those are in. We also have no idea what any of the docks or the tent pad areas if they've been washed out" said Ward.

The park service says it hopes to reopen some areas by the end of July and that's if Mother Nature keeps the park and surrounding area out of the rain. But officials already know some areas will have to wait until next year.

"Even if we had the money tomorrow and the lakes went down in the next 15 to 20 days, it would be very difficult for us to get that work done before it got cold enough that we wouldn't be able to get it done" said Ward.

The fiscal year ends for the park September 30th which means many fingers are crossed in hopes that water levels will go down in time to request the needed funding.

The park service says outside the interior back country of the park, there are still nearly 240 campsites still open.

Bryce Henry