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Spruce Woods Park Today

Reid Dickie

Last Friday I took a drive out to Spruce Woods Park to see how the little park overwintered. Park workers have cleaned up most of the debris that cluttered the ditches. The plastic and metal grid dams that were washed away and strewn about the park have been removed. Some infill in wash-out areas, such as around the park sign and in ditches where water stood all last year, has been done. The huge pile of trees next to the bridge has been removed, likely providing the park with firewood for the next five years. The low road to the campground is still impassable and there remains plenty of evidence of the flood’s impact on the landscape. 

According to Manitoba Parks, the entire lower campground (bays 1 – 7) and all the campground buildings at Kiche Manitou in Spruce Woods were completely destroyed by the floodwaters. Currently the department is assessing damages and planning reconstruction, however, the lower campground will NOT be open for the 2012 season. The upper campground and yurts will still be available.

I stopped at the trailhead of Spirit Sands and took a few pictures. Though they never moved all last summer, the three covered wagons await their horses and a flood of tourists to carry out to the dunes. Other than the lower campground closure and most of the trail system needing repairs, the park will  operate more or less as usual this year. I’m looking forward to watching the natural changes the park will undergo this summer.

The status of several other provincial parks damaged by flooding last year remains uncertain. The department is reporting that availability of parks around Lake Manitoba inundated by high lake levels will vary. Since its campground and park infrastructure were completely destroyed, camping at St. Ambroise Park will not be offered this year. Also on the lake, Watchorn Park was damaged badly and assessments are currently underway, but it’s uncertain whether camping will be available this year. The campgrounds at Rainbow Beach and Manipogo Parks are now under repair with the intent that they’ll be open on May 11. Lundar Beach Park suffered extensive damage and, although repairs are underway, availability of camping this summer is uncertain. Slowly our parks will bounce back.

There have been changes this year in Manitoba Parks. Camping fees have increased slightly, between $1.05 and $3.15 depending on services offered. Park entry fees will be charged this year, ending three pleasant years of free park entry. Annual permits are just $30, amongst the lowest in Canada. Three-day passes are $8 and single day is $4. Permits are required after May 1 and can be purchased by mid-April at any Manitoba conservation office including campground offices, large stores like Canadian Tire and small stores that cater to fishers and hunters.

The Manitoba Provincial Parks Reservation System kicks into life tomorrow, April 2, 2012 at 7:30 a.m.  They should have the latest information on campground availability around the province. In Winnipeg call 948-3333, elsewhere toll-free 1-888-482-2267. Their website is manitobaparks.com

The mighty Assiniboine that caused havoc last year at this time is a much more peaceful river today as you can see. Here it’s rounding the bend at Spirit Sands trailhead. I’ll have many more reports on Spruce Woods Park and my other travels this summer on my blog. Stay tuned. Happy trails!

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Filed under Accommodations, Carberry, Day Tripping, Flood, Natural Places, Parks, Spirit

Manitoba Flood Update – June 9

Reid Dickie

The Rain Has Stopped!

That’s the best news! This map illustrates the normal amounts of rainfall Manitoba usually gets in May and the excessive accumulations this year. The following list shows how much more rain the area has received compared to normal amounts for May.

  • Souris, Estevan, Sask. and Minot, N.D., have received 297 per cent of normal precipitation.
  • Hamiota has received 294 per cent of normal precipitation.
  • Pierson has received 279 per cent of normal precipitation.
  • Ste. Rose du Lac has received 254 per cent of normal precipitation.
  • Virden has received 250 per cent of normal precipitation.
  • McCreary has received 246 per cent of normal precipitation.
  • Melita has received 229 per cent of normal precipitation.
  • Dauphin and Arborg have received 195 per cent of normal precipitation.
  • Brandon has received 190 per cent of normal precipitation.
  • Portage la Prairie has received 182 per cent of normal precipitation.

So far, our spring has been cool and wet with a few summery days. Soils province-wide are saturated causing concern about flash flooding should we get more heavy rains. Fields and pastures remain underwater with farmers saying the land will be useless for years, residents along Lake Manitoba are demanding government buy-outs of their flooded properties, Dauphin Lake claims more and more properties, new crests of the Souris, Qu’ Appelle and Assiniboine Rivers are coming and emergency crews continue watching miles of dikes for breaches. Regarding the buy-outs, The Magnificent Selinger has flip-flopped on this, one day, no buy-outs, next day maybe buy-outs, then some buy-outs. Still pretty tense here.

Bartley Kives wrote an interesting piece about our lakes in the Brandon Sun. Best lead line this week is from Bill Redekop: “One cottage had seaweed clinging to the ceiling fan.”  Sad, poignant and descriptive – good one, Bill!

Provincial parks are either blossoming or bombing this year depending on their flood status. Three campgrounds around Lake Manitoba have been inundated and are closed for the season: Lundar Beach, St. Ambroise and Watchorn. Due to spring flooding and  increases in lake levels for the next several months, these three provincial park campgrounds will not open this season and efforts are underway to protect park infrastructure. Spruce Woods Park remains off-limits and inaccessible except for the higher campground. The provincial parks website has the latest information. A reminder: for the third year in a row there is no charge to visit Manitoba’s provincial parks, free admittance but campground fees still apply. Get out there and enjoy one of our parks.

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Filed under Accommodations, Flood, Local History, Parks

The Flood Moves North – Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reid Dickie

Reminder: hover cursor over picture for caption/comment

“Get rid of God and religion and replace it with a government which pretends to deliver redemption with a cheque book; but how does the rational age god guarantee redemption without perpetual motion of the second kind? This is a thing of beauty: subsidize the destruction of nature (soil, water, specie) and then compensate the recipients when their subsidy cannot be collected because big bad old nature huffed and puffed. Yes it is a thing of beauty for the middlepeople who collect taxes, distribute subsidies, and then offer compensation for the inconvenience of failed assumptions while they pay themselves for all of the transactions involved. And we only have to sacrifice with infinite debt to accomplish this thing of beauty.” comment by Eco Bimbo on Free Press story about Manitoba government spewing $175 million around for compensation and more protection from future floods.

Meanwhile, for the rubber boots brigades around Lake Manitoba, things just keep getting worse. Two-thirds of the water coming down the Assiniboine for the past two months has been diverted their way and their front yards and basements are full, their riprap rocks swept away, properties flooded and an ominous sense of dread builds when they hear the northwest wind get up. Properties all around Lake Manitoba are flooded including Oak Point, Twin Beaches and Johnson Beach on the east shore. Delta Beach on the south shore has a voluntary evacuation of 30 permanent residences in place tonight. Big winds came blasting in from the northwest yesterday wrecking havoc along the virtually unprotected south shoreline, especially Delta Beach. Many residents are saying they had no warning and no help from the government. Manitoba Water Stewardship claims 100 military personel are in the area assisting and another 100 along the Assiniboine. Where did the other 1500 we had a week ago disappear to? They are needed. This ain’t over yet and somebody should probably tell MWS and the military that, soon.

Lake Manitoba outflows via the Fairford River, which is dammed right at the lake. It drains into Lake St. Martin, around which two First Nations are flooded out, then, via Dauphin River into the north basin of Lake Winnipeg then into Hudson Bay. According to today’s Flood Bulletin from MWS, “the Fairford River water control structure continues to operate at full capacity. Outflows from Lake Manitoba on the Fairford River and further downstream on the Dauphin River remain high.” So more water is being dumped into the big lake than its outlet can handle thus flooding. No brainer.

Inundated, St. Ambroise Provincial Park, which juts out into Lake Manitoba, Lundar Beach and Watchorn campgrounds on the lake, will not open this year. Tonight the waters from the weekend storms are surging gravity-driven toward their destiny in wide Hudson Bay and, as the flood moves north, the people in the way take their turn holding their breath.

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