Rain delays projects at county parks

ESCANABA — The rainy, cool weather seen in Delta County this summer has impacted the area in many ways — including attendance at county parks.

According to Rory Mattson, executive director of the Delta Conservation District, the number of people visiting Delta County’s parks has been down this summer. In contrast, the summer of 2016 was the district’s most successful season on record.

“We’re down a little bit … and I believe the majority of it has to do with the weather,” he said.

Other factors may have also had a negative effect on park attendance this summer, though not as much as the weather has. Mattson said while he thought construction on the U.S. 2 and 41 bridge over the Escanaba River near Pioneer Trail Park in Gladstone would dissuade several people from visiting this park, this has apparently not been the case.

“I’m pleasantly surprised … I don’t think that’s affected us as much as the weather,” he said.

Rainfall has created additional problems for the Delta Conservation District, as well. At Fuller Park in Bark RIver, the district has been having issues with campsites 30 and 31.

“Every time it rains, it tends to flood a little bit,” Mattson said.

Mattson said campsite 30 has been temporarily closed. To avoid similar problems in the future, the district plans to raze campsites 30-33 and install gravel, sand, and topsoil to lift them by at least six inches.

Rainy weather in the area has also delayed the construction of rustic campsites at Fuller Park. These were initially supposed to be available to campers this spring.

“We probably won’t get our rustic sites in until this fall,” Mattson said. The sites are now expected to become available to campers in 2018.

At Sac Bay County Park, Mattson said precipitation has prevented the district from installing new outhouses.

“The groundwater has been so high, you can’t dig a hole without it flooding,” he said. The district plans to install these outhouses as soon as groundwater levels start falling.

Mattson said that this weather could have had a more severe impact on the district, and that attendance at the parks has still been healthy. However, he is hoping for better conditions next summer.

“I’m praying for dry weather,” he said.