WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published July 08, 2012, 07:54 PM

Campers pleasantly surprised with Itasca Park clean-up

Itasca State Park (WDAY TV) -- It's been long hours, and a lot of work for crews at Itasca State Park.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ, WDAY

Itasca State Park (WDAY TV) -- It's been long hours, and a lot of work for crews at Itasca State Park.

Less than one week ago straight line winds tore through the Bemidji causing heavy damage from fallen trees.

Matt Brenden from Grand Forks is packing up after camping with friends at Itasca State Park for the weekend.

Matt Brenden - Grand Forks: "It's close to Grand Forks, it's pretty convenient, user friendly, lots to do."

After hearing about the devastating storm that came through here last Monday he was pleasantly surprised when he arrived to camp.

Matt Brenden: "There were some downed trees. Most of the paths were cleared. They must have done a quick clean up."

It's estimated that Monday's storm brought winds of 80 miles-an-hour to many places in the Bemidji area.

Joel Groebner - Itasca Park Ranger: "We did have some vehicles and camping units damaged. There were some very close calls but everyone got out OK."

Harlan Eklund - Camper: "We do have friends that have lost campers and motor homes, beautiful big trees.

Park officials say crews worked long hours so the park could stay open for the busy Fourth of July week. But, as fast as crews managed to clear the trees, the damage did keep people away. That could be felt at park's bike and boat rental center.

Employees say they didn't rent many bikes following the storm because of all trees that fell on the trails. The park has a way to go before it's back 100 percent. Ranger Joel Groebner says it will take months for his staff to clear the out large trees. And some campsites remain closed for safety.

Joel Greobner - Park Ranger: "We are still conducting hazardous tree assessments. We have had tree come down after the initial event."

Greobner says one of the biggest reason the clean up has gone so smooth, and the park never had to close is because electricity was restored quickly after the storm, which hasn't been the case after other big storms the park has experienced.

La Salle Lake State Recreation Area, near Itasca will reopen it's camp ground this week.