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Area state parks gearing up as weather warms up: State fishing opener on May 14


photo by Ryan Bergeron
This bench at Lake Bronson State Park provides a place to rest off the trail and look over the water. Lake Bronson provides a spot for people of all ages to get away, take a step back, and experience nature, Lake Bronson State Park Manager Tim Williamson explained.

As temperatures begin to rise and as summer nears, staff at both the Lake Bronson and Old Mill State Parks are dealing with some high water events, like much of the area, said Tim Williamson, Park Manager of both of these state parks.

“There’s been a lot of managing the lake and the dam,” Williamson said about Lake Bronson State Park, “but staff has been working very hard on… getting the buildings ready for summer.”

Williamson talked about all the work that has been going on at both the state parks he manages, his thoughts on the temperatures warming up and summer approaching, the various opportunities at the parks— including the upcoming fishing opener— and the parks’ days and hours of operation.

Due to rainfall, Lake Bronson State Park has been dealing with wet campgrounds and roads. Williamson hopes everything will dry out and be ready for the Minnesota fishing opener— scheduled for Saturday, May 14.

He highlighted how Old Mill State Park is also dealing with water issues.

“The Middle River was quite high and we did have to sandbag… the historic mill down there… The river ran up to the sandbags itself,” Williamson said. “So there’s going to be some post-high water in both units, both parks, post-high water sort of cleanup, and then getting the parks ready.”

Going into Lake Bronson, the river is running so high and fast that the park has seen much debris float down from the river and into the lake.

“We’ve been getting that bigger trees and debris out and just trying to get the lake ready for boats as well,” Williamson said. “And that’s been taking a fair amount of staff time.”

Asked about the temperatures warming up, Williamson is happy about it, providing an opportunity to go down to lighter clothing. Despite the wet recent weather, staff is working to ensure the trails and everything at these state parks are safe and ready for all who come to visit.

“It’s always interesting to see the seasons change. This one’s been a little bit wet at times,” Williamson said. “… Like I said, we’ve had some high water activity, but for the most part, we’ve just tried to get everything ready for the people who like to fish up here and walking at both parks, and then just getting all the campgrounds… ready for the season.”

As the temperatures have warmed up, the trails on the parks have been drying up. What about the snow?

“Snow is mostly gone, you know 99 percent, still a patch here or there, especially back in the woods still.”

As for fishing, Lake Bronson provides the opportunity to catch a variety of fish— walleye, northern, perch, crappie, other types of panfish, and a few bass.

“The fishing opener this coming Friday, we’ll find out a little bit more of what’s biting and what’s not,” Williamson said.

With the strong draw through the lake due to the high river levels and the forecasted rain over the next month, Williamson wanted to provide people with a reminder.

“We just remind people to be cautious and safe on the lake,” Williamson said, “and to be on the lookout in case, as they’re out there doing any other activities.”

Williamson also wanted to highlight “really exciting” opportunities coming to both parks— that of summer youth programming. These programs will begin on Memorial Day weekend and go into September— when the fall colors emerge. Park staff members Diane Peterson and Sheila Billings have been working on these activities.

“Our staff has worked pretty hard to put together some really nice programming,” Williamson said. “And so if you come on up, we’ll be changing it pretty much month to month, focusing on a new thing every month, and they’re finalizing that list as we speak.”

To see the complete story, read the May 11 issue of The Tribune or the May 12 issue of the North Star News.

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