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July 4 Holiday Roundup at U.S. Campgrounds

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July 8, 2013 by   - () Leave a Comment

Campers spent the Fourth at campgrounds. Vintage patriotic clip art courtesy of Karen Watson

Editor's Note: Following are highlights from the nation's media about the just concluded July Fourth holiday weekend at campgrounds.

NEW YORK

From Plattsburgh to Port Kent, locals and tourists were out enjoying the sunshine at campgrounds across the country on Saturday (July 6).
The operations manager at Bolton Acres in Keeseville says even though his camp made it through the recent rain storms relatively unscathed, business is slow, especially for a holiday weekend, WPTZ-TV, Burlington, Vt., reported.

“Business has been slow and people don't want to spend the weekend in their camper when it's raining all the time. It's not enjoyable for them. We haven't been flooded. I've had water coming up the top of the hill and it's washed out the road a bit but overall it hasn't been that bad for us,” said Alan Kirby.

Campers like Scott Meehan and his family travel from Montreal each weekend. He's concerned about the heavy rain's effect on the lake, but it hasn't stopped them from camping.

“The rain has not helped obviously because it's keeping us off the lake. Uncertainty with the weather keeps us here a little bit more often and with the water being so high, there is a lot of debris in the water so it's actually a little bit dangerous to be out on the lake. There's a lot of logs and potential damage out there,” said Meehan.

Most campers say even severe rain doesn’t deter their vacation plans and there are plenty of rainy-weather activities.

“We do other activities, we go hiking, we are boaters, the lake is our main attraction so obviously if we can we are going to maximize our time on the lake, but if not we can golf and we have other activities like shopping,” said Meehan.

Kirby says campers generally know how to deal with flooding and washed-out roads, and they have a plan in place if it happens on their site.

WISCONSIN

The Fourth of July weekend brought thousands to Central and Northern Wisconsin. Many of whom come for just one thing: to spend some time with mother nature. There's no better way to do that than by camping, WSAW-TV, Wausau, reported.

Owner of Lake DuBay Shores Campground, Dennis Stanek, says more than 200 campers will pack the campgrounds this Fourth of July weekend. Although campers rolled in a little later than usual thanks to the long winter, now they're coming in droves.

"People are camping a little differently this year I think in reference to some people are staying longer. Maybe they're trying to make up for the spring. We hope so," Stanek tells NewsChannel 7.

Stanek thinks gas prices may also be a contributing factor in campers decision to stay longer. But the good news is that the cost to fill up doesn't seem to be keeping people at home.

"Obviously the gas prices have changed the way people have done things, but in a year or two people adapt to what the situation is and it's been a little slow for a couple of years, but now it's coming back," Stanek explains.

Harley Meyer and his family have been camping on Lake DuBay for the last five years. Meyer says he wouldn't miss the Fourth of July Celebration on Lake DuBay for pretty much anything.

"Going out on the pontoon watching the fireworks right from the water [is my favorite part]," Meyer says adding "We all take our pontoons out. We tie them all together. They shoot off the fireworks from an island and it's just unbelievable to see the fireworks coming down on the water."

Lake DuBay Shores Campground isn't done celebrating Independence Day just yet. Friday they plan to have a pontoon boat parade and maybe some more fireworks.

NORTH DAKOTA

The spring rain put a damper on state parks, including Fort Lincoln near Mandan. But the park has bounced back this 4th of July weekend with hundreds of visitors and activities, KMOT-TV, Minot, reported.

People are out enjoying the sun, the outdoors and the Missouri River.

"We are just fishing, enjoying the wilderness. Last night was crazy watching all the fireworks and everything go off. I think everybody out here is just enjoying it, loving it," said camper Matthew Hadley.

Matthew Hadley decided to spend his weekend camping at Fort Lincoln State Park like several other visitors.

"Any busy weekend we could have close to 400 people just in the campground. We are sometimes bigger than some small towns in North Dakota," said park manager Dan Schelske.

Fourth of July weekend is notorious for bringing in visitors to Ft. Lincoln. Almost all 96 campsites were full. The park sits along the Missouri River and there are also hiking trails and interpretive tours available.

Despite reaching capacity, the park manager says there are constantly people coming in and out, so if you are interested in camping at Fort Lincoln, or one of the other state parks, just stop in and check it out.

TENNESSEE

Campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains stayed busy during this long holiday weekend. But this summer, visitors have limited options, WBIR-TV, Knoxville, reported.

Federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, went into effect in March. As a result, the National Park Service took a 5% (or, $134 million) reduction for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) closed the following campgrounds: Abrams Creek, Look Rock and Baslam Mountain. GSMNP also closed two picnic areas and is managing with a smaller summer staff.

"We tried to choose areas that would be the least impact to our visitors. But we still know that while these are are least visited areas, they're still somebody's favorite spot," said Dana Soehn, a GSMNP spokesperson.

At Look Rock, both the campground and picnic area are still closed.

But despite limited campsites during one of its busiest weeks of the year, they have been able to accommodate. The rain caused some visitors to leave early, leaving space at places like Elkmont.

Elisa Calleiro and her family are spending the weekend at Elkmont.

"It would be nice to know that it's not off limits forever because I have tons of places I'd like to hike to and I'd like to know I can stay there at some point," Calleiro said.

Soehn said GSMNP is unsure when the three campgrounds will reopen; however, park rangers are still monitoring the areas and helping visitors who stop by for the day.

IOWA

Many Muscatine-area riverfront campgrounds are normally filled with campers and tents this time of year, as outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the July 4th holiday weekend.

But this year's rising water levels have created a much different scene this summer, forcing the local U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to close Shady Creek campground, near Fairport on June 29, and to partially close Clark's Landing in Montpelier. Both campgrounds are located just of of Iowa Highway 22, the Muscatine Journal reported.

Kevin Zidarich, a park ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Muscatine, said that the corps also oversees Kilpeck Landing near Fruitland, Ferry Landing northeast of Oakville and the Illinois campgrounds of Andalusia Slough and Blanchard Island, all of which are closed due to flooding.

"We've gone up and down with floods and we still haven't been able to reopen," said Zidarich.

According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the recent bout of high water is the result of flash flooding that passed through northeast Iowa last week.

Zidarich said 16 feet is considered the minor flood stage. Recent water levels recorded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are 18.16 feet at Illinois City and 19.7 feet on Muscatine's Mississippi Riverfront.

"We've crested and it's been dropping," said Zidarich.

On July 2, the corps recorded a depth of 20.05 feet on the Muscatine waterfront and 18.47 feet in Illinois.

"It shows projections of going down," said Zidarich. "As soon as levels are down and it's safe to reopen, we will, but I can't really put a timetable on that."

Rising waters also have a negative impact on water sports such as boating and water skiing.

According to the DNR, recent heavy rains washed debris into the river which, combined with poor water clarity and a strong current, create a hazardous situation.

State Conservation Officer Ed Kocal of the DNR said his office is advising against boating on the Mississippi River from Clinton down to the Missouri border until the water level drops several more feet.

The Mississippi River level at Rock Island is 2.4 feet above flood stage, and that high water is moving fast, said Kocal.

The Cedar and Iowa rivers in southeast Iowa are also above flood stage and caution is urged on those rivers as well.

Zidarich advises area residents not to boat or water ski until conditions improve.

"There are a lot of debris floating in the river," said Zidarich. "You don't know what may be floating in the water or below the surface. It's really not recommended to be boating or water skiing now."

 

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