Duluth Parks and Trails on Long Road to Recovery

By KBJR News 1

July 27, 2012 Updated Jul 28, 2012 at 12:24 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Local legend Dan Proctor has so tirelessly donated his time to the upkeep of Duluth's parks and trails that the city has even dedicated one in his name.

It's a weekly task that, since June's flood, has become an around the clock effort.

"The last month or so, I have been out moving dirt—mostly with 5 gallon buckets and wheelbarrows downhill—because it's too narrow to get equipment down here," said Proctor.

...a grueling task for anyone that could take years, but, according to Proctor, it's needed, especially on trails that serve not just recreational, but transportation needs.

"It keeps people off the roads. It keeps people from clogging up the parking lots. And, it keeps them healthy and happy," said Proctor.

The destruction seen in Chester Bowl is synonymous with an overwhelming amount of Duluth's parks and trails.

"The creek has rerouted itself; it has scoured out the cross–country ski trial bridge that's behind us. It has knocked down trees. It has deposited rocks and boulders in brand new places," said Kelly Fleissner, with the City of Duluth.

And, while the parks are open to the public, it doesn't mean all is well and safe, which is why the city is urging park–goers to stay off of banks, away from sinkholes, and out of the water.

"You can't make any assumptions that just because I always swam in this part of the creek, and it was safe, there could be rocks, or boulders, or all sorts of things underneath the water that you don't see," said Kathy Bergen, of Parks and Recreation.

Numerous factors are slowing the recovery process.

"We've got landslides that have happened that might get worse, if we get another substantial rain," said Fleissner.

...not to mention the compromises that need to be reached among the various organizations throughout the cleanup process.

"We have to work with the DNR fisheries, the DNR Hydrologist, and make sure we meet all the requirements, and get the right permits," said Bergen.

But, volunteers—like Proctor—are in it for the long haul.

"We're gonna do it," said Proctor.

Following talks with state legislators, and FEMA, city officials say they're confident that aid for Duluth's parks and trails will be received on a state, and federal, level.