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Northland parks caution visitors during government shutdown

Jan 22, 2018 09:07AM ● Published by Editor

Hikers walk through a sandstone archway at the Mawikwe Bay Ice Caves a part of the Mainland unit of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore on Lake Superior east of Cornucopia, Wis. in 2015. (News Tribune file photo)

By Lisa Kaczke of the Duluth News Tribune on January 21, 2018

As the federal government's shutdown began this weekend, the Northland's national parks notified visitors that trail and ice conditions would be going unchecked.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Voyageurs National Park remain open, but staff took to social media on Saturday to caution visitors.

Park rangers at the Apostle Islands noted that the mainland sea caves are closed to the public until further notice due to poor ice conditions as well as the shutdown, and Meyers Road is closed to vehicle traffic.

"Experienced park rangers will not be monitoring ice conditions. Access could change without notice and there are no NPS-provided services. Search and rescue capability will be extremely limited and most likely significantly delayed," the Apostle Islands posted on its Facebook page. "Please be safe and make good decisions. Stay off the ice."

During the rangers' latest check of ice conditions on Friday, they found that conditions had deteriorated. They found "very porous, poor quality ice" and needed to turn around after finding a large area of high-risk ice, according to the Facebook post. The warm temperatures this weekend were expected to further weaken the ice.

On Voyageurs National Park's Facebook page, staff were asking visitors to be aware that road and trail conditions could change.

"The National Park Service will not be plowing roads or maintaining trails due to a lapse in appropriations. Please use extreme caution if you choose to visit," the post stated.

The U.S. Forest Service will provide critical services that include emergency preparedness and response and fire suppression during the shutdown, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture statement.

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