High waters are receding on metro-area lakes and rivers, but no-wake speeds and closures remain at many locations.
The biggest exception is the St. Croix River, where boaters could soon be kicking up waves for the first time all spring. The river level Tuesday had dropped close to 683 feet Mean Sea Level. Below that point, boats will be allowed to go faster than 5 miles per hour.
The rule applies to 52 miles of border water between Taylors Falls, Minn., and Prescott, Wis.
This year’s early season flow in the St. Croix put many islands under water. Besides having the potential to damage shorelines, levies and islands, the high water has carried the threat of floating debris and hazardous river currents. And while no-wake restrictions will be lifting, the Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers and recreational boaters that boating hazards and the potential for shoreline erosion will continue.
Two state parks along the St. Croix — Afton and William O’Brien — escaped the high water with minimal trail and picnic area flooding. But at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, Fort Snelling State Park remains closed after shutting down during the last week in March.
Nick Bartels, assistant park manager, said Tuesday that floodwaters have receded enough to see parts of Picnic Island. Put even if flooded roads in the park were to dry out this week, it will take time to remove sediment and debris. In addition, the park’s bridges will have to be inspected for possible damage, he said.
“The last time this happened, we needed a road grader to remove sediment,” Bartels said.
In Hennepin County, water levels on Lake Minnetonka fell below 930 feet on Sunday, signaling that a long-lasting, high-water declaration and no-wake restrictions could be lifted soon. The boating limits remain until water levels fall below 930 feet for three consecutive days. Tuesday’s level as of 5 p.m. was 929.93 feet.
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department, in conjunction with several cities, announced water-related closures and restrictions on May 31 after Memorial Day rain made 2019 the third-wettest start to a year since record keeping began in 1871. The six other lakes with high-water declarations were Lake Independence, Fish Lake, Long Lake, Twin Lake, Crystal Lake and Medicine Lake.
Edgar Linares, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department, said Tuesday that the agency can’t predict when all the restrictions will be lifted.
In Ramsey County, Nikki Wee-Moretto of the parks and recreation department said some trails and a beach in the Shoreview area still were closed Tuesday because of high water. Grass Lake Trail, Sucker Lake Trail and Snail Lake Beach are affected, she said.