Storms wreak lasting damage

By Vanessa Dietz

vdietz@mininggazette.com

PORCUPINE MOUNTAINS WILDERNESS STATE PARK – While some Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park cabins and campsites reopened after two severe thunderstorms, several additional features remain closed – some permanently.

Severe thunderstorms July 11 and 21 caused widespread damage across the western Upper Peninsula, much of it at parks and recreational facilities.

The Speaker’s Cabin, located just south of the Lake Superior shoreline on the west end of the state park, was moved Tuesday, 12 feet away from Speaker’s Creek. Flooding undercut the banks along the creek, chewing away nearly 10 feet of shoreline near the cabin. It will remain closed until Aug. 20.

“We had three major maintenance crews, along with our interior crew, working on moving Speaker’s Cabin,” said Porcupine Mountains-Lake Gogebic state parks unit manager Jeff Gaertner in a recent press release.

Park staff posted signs alerting boaters and other Lake Superior users of the potential of encountering floating debris.

The storm destroyed boats and trailers in Saxon Harbor, parts of which Lake Superior redistributed. A trailer washed up on the shoreline of the park, believed to be part of the recent storm damage at Saxon Harbor. Floating debris from 85 boats damaged or destroyed at Saxon Harbor July 11 drifted toward the Porcupine Mountains. The day after the storm, numerous trees were floating off the mouth of Speaker’s Creek. DNR staff moving supplies to Speaker’s Cabin by boat found floating debris on the lake surface. In a remote section of shoreline at the Porcupine Mountains, park staff found a smashed travel trailer that floated ashore, according to a Michigan Department of Natural Resources press release issued Wednesday.

Since the storms hit, park staff at Porcupine Mountains has helped repair bridges, trails, boardwalks and other structures.

The Lake Superior Trail remains blocked by several trees, especially between Lafayette Landing and Lone Rock.

“It’s a mess,” Gaertner said Thursday, adding a crew opened one-quarter mile of the blockage before running out of gas in the remote area.

“We have three DNR Forest Resource Division crews working on trail clearing throughout the park,” Gaertner said in the release. “FRD’s response to this has been outstanding and we appreciate it. We continue to work together.”

Trail users should seek a safe natural crossing upstream of the trail bridge over the Big Carp River until it can be replaced after the storm washed it out.

At the Presque Isle Campground, located on the western end of the park, one campsite is closed permanently. Floodwaters collapsed the sides of a stream bank, which undermined a steep embankment situated next to the site. A nearby stairwell along the stream to Lake Superior has been closed temporarily until the path at the foot of the stairs can be cleared of fallen trees and mud.