DNR warning: Waters dangerously high, fast | WDAY

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Proceed with caution: Cody Kelly, 12, of International Falls, paddles his kayak down the driveway — now a river — of a home in Pelland Junction. Kelly came to volunteer to help anyone he could. The DNR has since warned people to be extremely careful on floodwaters. FORUM NEWS SERVICE/Bob King

DNR warning: Waters dangerously high, fast

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 It may look like fun, but following recent rains across the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is urging boaters, paddlers and swimmers to think twice before heading out on the water right now.

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People must be especially cautious around high water; making sure they wear a life jacket and are aware of local flooding conditions and alerts. People also should not venture into flooded areas.

“Rivers, lakes and streams around Minnesota are extremely swollen and that water is cooler than normal,” said Kara Owens, DNR boat and water safety specialist.

Water temperatures around the metro are hovering around 70 degrees, which is 5-10 degrees colder than normal.

“Stream and river currents are also extremely strong and moving fast, which many boaters and swimmers are not used to,” Owens said.

Boaters should also be aware that there’s more debris in the water. That includes both natural and man-made objects that have been swept into the river.

“Debris will often float just at or below the surface,” Owens said. “Hitting a log at high speed could result in damage to boats or serious injuries.”

So far this year, three people have died in boating accidents compared to five this time last year.

A no-wake zone is currently in effect on rivers and lakes around the metro, including the St. Croix River from Taylors Falls to Prescott, Prior Lake and Lake Minnetonka. The Minneapolis locks on the Mississippi River are closed to both recreational and commercial traffic.

Flooding closes parks

Several state parks have been closed due to flooding and storm damage: Franz Jevne State Park, near the Minnesota-Canada border, is closed temporarily due to flooding along the Rainy River, and Blue Mounds State Park in southwestern Minnesota is temporarily closes due to storm damage and will remain closed until further notice. All camping reservations at the park are being canceled through July 13.

The park has received more than 11 inches of rain since June 14. Rapidly rising waters and accompanying debris in Blue Mounds Creek caused damage to many areas of the park, including roads, trails, bison fence and the spillway connected to the dam on Lower Mound Lake. Heavy flows of surface water caused additional damage.

“We decided it was in the best interest of our visitors to close the park until repairs could be made and services restored,” said Kathy Dummer, southern region operations manager for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “We want their experience at the park to be a good one.”

Heavy rain closes trails

Heavy rains in portions of northern Minnesota have prompted the closure of some off-highway vehicle trails and state forest roads.

Some forest roads and OHV trails are flooded, are unstable due to soil saturation or have washed out in sections, so several have been temporarily closed to the public and signed at entry points.

Kabetogema, Koochi-ching, Land O’Lakes and St. Croix state forests are some of the impacted areas.

State forest road and trail users should check “Current Conditions” on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/trailconditions/index.html before traveling.

Road and trail closing information will be updated as conditions change.

Cuyuna stays open

Construction of the new trailhead is underway at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area (SRA) in Ironton (north of Brainerd).

Most of the recreation area will remain open throughout the construction season, however the Pennington Mine Lake public water access, Huntington Mine Lake carry-in canoe access and the road to Miner’s Mountain Overlook will be closed temporarily for visitor safety.

“There will be some inconvenience this summer, but the end product will be worth it,” said SRA manager Steve Weber.

The new facility will provide 96 additional parking spots, changing stations, picnic shelter, vault toilet and new walkway with waterfront access to Huntington Mine Lake.

The project is expected to take 8-10 weeks, and managers are optimistic the new facility will be open for use before Labor Day Weekend.

The 25-mile mountain bike trail system will remain open throughout construction, as will the Yawkey trailhead area, the paved Cuyuna Lakes State Trail and the campground.

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