One of Minnesota's most popular and accessible state parks will remain closed this upcoming holiday weekend and all the way through June due to persistent flooding and damage from the winter’s hefty snowpack and spring’s heavy rains.
"Still got a long way to go when it comes to getting things cleaned up and opened back up," said Assistant Park Manager Nick Bartels. "One of the longer times it's been closed."
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources DNR) says the closure could remain in effect until sometime in July, depending on weather conditions and work progress. Spring flooding has taken a huge toll on the park, seen in extensive road damage, the poor condition of the park office due to a broken water main and extensive sandbagging, the inability to reach Picnic Island due to the road remaining under water, and a heavily-used fishing pier that has been pushed high on dry land by the Mississippi River.
“We know how eager folks are to get out and enjoy nature now that spring has finally arrived, but making sure the park is safe for staff and park visitors is critical before opening,” said Fort Snelling State Park manager Kelli Bruns. “The park experienced significant damage to its main roads, and water lines, and there are downed trees and trail washouts that need to be repaired. Meanwhile, we hope people will consider visiting one of our other state parks.”
Besides needed repairs, there is the matter of the river itself. KARE 11 meteorologist Laura Betker says water will continue to rise on the Mississippi over the long Memorial Day weekend. It is currently just under 12.5 feet, but is expected to stabilize around 14 feet early next week. That’s considered minor flood stage for downtown St. Paul and nearby landmarks.
Earlier this spring the Mississippi crested at 20.19 feet, which was the 7th highest on record for this location. Recent rain events are responsible for the approaching second crest.