NOPINING PROVINCIAL PARK –
People who were hoping to kick off the camping and cottage season this weekend in Nopiming Provincial Park are out of luck.
Roads in the park and leading into and through Nopiming, which is located about 200 kilometers northeast of Winnipeg, have been ravaged by flooding.
It’s prompted the province to close campgrounds, trails and canoe routes.
Last summer forest fires prompted evacuations, and now this spring flooding has affected road access to the wilderness destination popular with cottagers, campers and canoeists who are being advised to stay away from the area until further notice.
“It’s one extreme to another,” said James Oliver, who works and lives near Nopiming. “I don’t think anyone’s going to be camping on the long weekend up. The roads are washed out, there’s no access to cabins.”
Oliver does work at a nearby mine but he can’t get there right now because roads are washed out.
“No work, no income,” Oliver said. “I just came from talking to a buddy… I’m going to go drive truck for him for a little bit until things pick up here again.”
Campgrounds in Nopiming were set to open Friday but flooding has forced the closure of all backcountry canoe routes and campsites until further notice.
The province said Highways 314 and 315 are closed in the park and Highway 304 from the north has several areas that are impacted.
The province said campgrounds will remain closed until at least June 2.
“No none from the parks department was available for an interview but the Manitoba government said in a statement it understands the frustration of some campers and is monitoring the situation to ensure parks, trails and campgrounds can open safely as soon as possible.
Windsock Lodge in the northern part of Nopiming Provincial Park on Long Lake has also been hit hard by rising lake levels.
Donna Hastings, who’s owned and operated the lodge for 36 years, said the flooding filled their boathouse with more than a meter of lake water — something Hasting never seen in the time she’s run the place.
“We’ve been threatened with forest fires, of course, but never a flood,” Hastings said. “So this is the first time we’ve ever experienced anything like this in our lives.”
Hastings said it comes just as the hunting and fishing lodge was finally able to start welcoming out of country guests after business took a hit during the pandemic.
Highway 304 to the lodge remains open but she said there’s no way in or out to the south on Highway 314 because roads got washed out.
“The roads are very soupy and a lot of the culverts have given out,” Hastings said. “I think they want to keep everyone out of the park just in case more culverts blow. Just for everybody’s safety.”
With more rain only expected to add to the problem, Oliver thinks it may be awhile before he can get back to his job site.
“It’s going to delay it a long time,” he said.
The province said all backcountry canoe routes have also been closed in the Manigotagan River Provincial Park.
Several other campgrounds have been affected by flooding including in Whiteshell Provincial Park. The province said reservation holders and seasonal site holders are being contacted and their fees will be refunded if their site is affected by a closure.
Courses may be extended if flooding and high water conditions continue.
Officials said campers shouldn’t cancel their reservations, as people will be notified.