The winter weather has proven entertaining for area state parks, said Tim Williamson, Park Manager of the Lake Bronson and Old Mill state parks.
“We are like many entities, where we have been doing our best to keep up with plowing,” Williamson said, “both on the days it snowed and then the next day when the wind blew.”
Williamson talked about winter state park opportunities, the traffic at the parks this winter and the weather’s impact on it, ice fishing on Lake Bronson, and the upcoming work as the parks gear up for summer.
As for winter opportunities at the parks, ice fishing on Lake Bronson has proven to be “pretty steady,” Williamson highlighted. He mentioned how the lake and ice fishing are the “biggest” winter features at Lake Bronson. People have been catching mainly northern pikes and walleyes on this lake.
He added how many people also take advantage of Lake Bronson State Park’s trails.
“Thank goodness for our volunteer groomer and the people who really watch over the trails here,” Williamson said. “… We had a fair amount of use here this year for both the lake and cross country skiing.”
Specifically, the volunteer groomer and the cabin owners association help keep the park’s cross country skiing trail groomed. Williamson said they do assist them with this.
Also at Lake Bronson, the visitor center has remained open all winter and the interpretive side has been open on and off, as people have requested it. They’ve done snowshoeing with area children too.
“We’re hoping that we can improve on some opportunities in the winters to come here,” Williamson said.
As for Old Mill State Park, it saw strong use for the sledding hill off the parking lot. People have also trekked through some of the trails, including snowmobiling.
Speaking of trails, both state parks include grant-and-aid snowmobile trails.
“There’s some trails in both parks,” Williamson said of these snowmobile trails, “and so we know that those snowmobile clubs have done a nice job of grooming and keeping access open to the grant-made trails.”
As for the weather’s impact on park attendance, Williamson thought it did impact it somewhat, referring to lower attendance, but highlighted how the parks worked to keep up with plowing.
“For the most part,” Williamson said, “I thought we did our best to keep access to all the recreational amenities at both (parks)… the best we could all winter.”
People do need to take their ice shelters off Lake Bronson by March 14. Both the walleye and northern pike fishing seasons did close on February 27.
After the shelters are taken off, Williamson said they will be preparing the lake for the upcoming seasons. They have been watching the bi-weekly, US National Weather Service and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) reports on flooding. The flood meter has recently gone from a minor chance of flooding to a moderate.
“We’re going to have to really start watching at the gates, and the dam, and the lake,” Williamson said, “following the last ice house getting off.”
To see the complete story, read the March 3 issue of the North Star News in print or online.