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Re-routing trails, watching for erosion: Lake Superior water levels affect area provincial park

Jul 13, 2019 07:42AM ● By Editor
High water levels on Lake Superior have forced Sleeping Giant Provincial Park staff to re-route trails over the past few years. Photo: Matt Prokopchuk / CBC

By CBC News · July  12, 2019

High water levels on Lake Superior have been affecting operations at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park over the past few years, but this year stands out, the park's superintendent said.

"Personally, I can't recall a time in my lifetime that [Lake Superior has] been this high," Christian Carl said. "It's been high for the past five years or so, this summer being exceptional, of course."

Carl said access to the park — which is located on the Sibley Peninsula, which projects out into Lake Superior from the north shore — hasn't yet been affected (although water did wash across Highway 587, which is used to access the park, last fall).

However, park staff have been forced to re-route some of the park's lakeside trails inland due to high water levels in recent years.

"There are a few sections of trails where the shoreline is the trail itself," Carl said, offering the park's Middlebrun Bay Trail as an example. "I've never seen Middlebrun to the point where you actually have to skirt along and go inland to get to the end of the trail."

Erosion in some areas, such as Lehtinen's Bay, is also a concern, Carl said, adding park staff has already done remediation work there.

Carl said that work took place in 2014, and involved stabilizing the bank.

However, with water levels continuing to set records, there's a concern more erosion may occur, and the site may "collapse into the lake," Carl said.

"With these higher water levels and storm events, we are concerned about erosion," he said. "It's something we're closely monitoring at this point, and if there is a need to do some bigger projects, we'll be looking to commence an environmental assessment and see what our best options are for remediation."

The good news, Carl said, is there isn't much backcountry infrastructure in the park itself. However, in addition to Lehtinen's Bay, park staff are also keeping an eye on some other backcountry camping areas, including Tee Harbour and Sawyers Bay.

To read the original article and see related reporting, follow this link to the CBC Thunder Bay website.

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