The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin has announced that the opening of its campgrounds and boat launches will be delayed until as late as May 19 this year, owing to lingering snowpack and high water levels in some areas.
The forest, which spans over 1.5 million acres, has experienced more snowfall than usual this season, leading to safety concerns and prompting the delay.
USDA Forest Service specialists are working diligently to re-open campgrounds as soon as possible. Preparations have begun for sites that can be accessed, including hazard tree assessments and removals, well testing, and general campground maintenance.
River and lake levels, however, remain high, and snowpack continues to persist in shady areas and plow piles.
Karen Katz, USDA FS Recreation Program Manager, notes that “the shoulder season in northern Wisconsin is always unpredictable.” She adds that “spring comes later here than the southern part of our state, and 2023 has seen cool weather and April snowfalls.”
Crews will regularly reassess conditions, and if there are any changes that allow for earlier re-openings, the public will be notified through the CNNF website, as well as their Facebook and Twitter pages.
In light of these delays, campers are encouraged to be flexible and consider alternate lodging plans if they intend to visit the forest at the beginning of May.
Katz reassures that “USDA FS recreation specialists are doing their best to open campgrounds as soon as possible, but a lot has to happen behind the scenes in order for our campgrounds to be safe and amenities to be in place.”
She also advises campers to call the district office nearest their destination for the most up-to-date information.
Campgrounds will open on a rolling basis as they become ready, with sites becoming available on a first-come, first-served basis.
All sites are expected to be open by May 19, and reservations can be made for these and later dates on the forest’s website.
The delay in campground openings may also impact private campground owners and operators in the vicinity of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
These businesses could potentially see a decrease in visitors during the early part of the peak camping season, as tourists might opt for alternate locations or postpone their trips altogether.
Additionally, private campground owners may need to reassess their own facilities and infrastructure in light of the lingering snowpack and high water levels, ensuring that their grounds are safe and accessible for guests once the season begins.
This situation highlights the importance of adaptability and preparedness for both public and private campground operators in the face of unpredictable weather conditions.