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Sure Sign of Spring: two loons swimming behind the dam at the Army Corps of Engineers Crosslake Campground. The campground is busy preparing for the summer high season.- Photos by Kate Perkins
Frog singing in a small pond just off the shore at the Army Corps of Engineers Crosslake Campground.- Photo by Kate Perkins

Crosslake Campground prepares for high season

Web posted May 6, 2014
By Kate Perkins, Northland Press Correspondent

Signs of spring are everywhere at the Army Corps of Engineers Recreation Site, whether it’s the birds flitting from branch to branch or the bustle in the campground as it’s prepared for the high season. The Army Corps of Engineers is busy readying Crosslake Campground for thousands of summer visitors, and that means a lot more than simply opening the gate.

According to Deb Griffith, park ranger at the Crosslake Army Corps of Engineers, the campground already had 1,316 reservations for the summer as of April 22, the first of which arrived on May 2.

“We are busy from the get-go,” Griffith said. She’s currently coordinating summertime volunteers and preparing equipment used in the campground in the summer.

She said that things really ramp up the week before Memorial Day. The walk-in sites start to fill up completely, and from the second week in June, when kids get out of school, to the second week in September, the campground stays pretty much sold out.

All in all the recreation area sees around 100,000 visitors, Griffith said, with 40,000-50,000 people staying in the campground over the summer.

In addition to putting up signs and opening up buildings, perhaps the biggest job for the Corps to complete is to remove the massive amounts of fallen leaves and pine needles from the campsites.

Every year the Corps relies on volunteers to help with raking every campsite. Griffith said the Corps is extremely grateful to the City of Crosslake, which donates some of its time and equipment to help with the effort.

City front loaders and dump trucks help take away the endless piles of leaves, and exit the campground with 25-30 loads every spring.

As for coordinating volunteers for the campground, Griffith began preparing for the summer season as early as last fall.

Volunteers come from far and wide to volunteer in the campground, either as campground hosts or to sell firewood. Some are from as far away as Texas, and some have been volunteering as many as eight years.

The growing number of visitors in the summer also means a need for more staff. Several student interns work in the recreation area throughout the summer.

This year campers will notice a few differences at the campground. Two new privvies and a new dock will be installed, for one, but perhaps the most notable change is the removal of around 200 trees from within the park.

Griffith said the Corps met with professional foresters from the DNR and walked through the campground to develop a forestry management plan. All the trees that were removed either presented a danger by hanging over campsites, made it difficult for traffic to maneuver the campground (especially for large RVs) or because they needed to be removed to allow for the growth of the next generation of trees.

The future goal of the campground is to widen some of the loop roads and make it easier for campers and RVs to get in and out of the campground. Allowing the next generation of trees to grow means that the campground won’t be totally sparse after current trees get old and die.

While there’s a lot of work to be done, Griffith said that the campground is always fresh and ready to go for high season right around mid-May.

The campground could still use help from volunteers with raking and other activities to prepare for summer. Anyone who wishes to volunteer can call 651-290-5793.

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