High Water Levels, Leftover Debris Causing Problems for Outdoor Memorial Day Activities

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GRANGER, Iowa — The weather is looking a little worrisome for those who want to spend this Memorial Day weekend outside camping.

It’s not only because of the rain on the way, but also because of the rain that already fell, the flooding, and the messes to clean up.

The Tigges family loves camping and all the activities involved, but for the second straight season, they aren’t able to set up camp at their favorite spot in Jester Park near Saylorville Lake.

“It’s disappointing just because [my wife] prefers down by the water,” Cody Tigges said. “It’s just got a better view. It’s a little disappointing but not the end of the world. We’re just out here to relax and have fun.”

Those lake view campsites are currently covered with large logs, debris, and everything left behind from flooding that’s now receded.

“We are not as bad as we were last year, but we are still experiencing some flooding in our parks,” Kami Rankin, community relations coordinator for Polk County Conservation said. “Jester Park has probably been hit the worst because of Saylorville Lake.”

On Memorial Day last year, the lake was about 19 feet over the conservation pool level, knocking out much of the campsites. On Monday, the lake is only eight feet above, but the high water levels from this winter into spring still did damage.

“Right now it’s taken out about one-third of our campsites so far,” Rankin said.

That is 56 of their 168 campsites closed for the holiday weekend. That means less spots for all the families, like the Tigges, set to head outdoors.

“We came [Sunday] to get one for Memorial Day weekend,” Tigges said. That’s a full week in advance.

As of Monday morning, 20 percent of Jester Park’s electric sites are already full. It’s expected to run out of electric campsites by the middle of this week.

Employees are working hard to repair the rest of the campsites, but with the ground still wet and more rain on the way, they are estimating those sites by the lake won’t be open until July.

“Those unfortunate things are also the fortunate things because when you do come out and it’s nice, you get the water views of Saylorville Lake and the wonderful amenities that people like. That’s why they like camping out here in the first place,” Rankin said.

Another high water situation is farther south at Lake Red Rock. The South Overlook boat ramp is closed until further notice.


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