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After flooding repairs, warm weather brings campers back to state parks

SPRINGFIELD -- Activity at regional state parks and recreation areas has already been steady after many were cleaned up from last year's flooding.

Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area near Yankton last weekend had 50 campsites filled, which is "unheard of" for this time of year, said Shane Bertsch, district Game Fish & Parks director.

The Springfield Recreational Area on Lewis and Clark Lake was one of the hardest hit by flooding last year, but is also nearly ready for visitors.

State employees had to move two camping cabins to Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area last summer to save them from rising water. The road to the Springfield campground was eroded and needed to be rebuilt this spring. About 2 feet of silt washed into the bay at the recreation area, which limited boaters to one ramp.

Bertsch said the Springfield site is already open for camping, but the comfort station, which includes bathrooms and showers, will not open until April 16.

The cabins will be ready by May 18. The cabins have been moved onto new concrete pads, but officials have yet to install electricity and reconnect the decks, he said.

The parks system paid about $5,000 to move the cabins to and from Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area, construct new concrete pads, reshape the shoreline, seed grass, and install extra gravel to rebuild a road.

More will be spent to dredge out all the extra silt and Bertsch "can't even speculate" a cost, he said.

But he's positive about the coming season.

"I think we're going to have a good year," Bertsch said. "We've had a good volume of campers already and even a few more than usual, because people are staying closer to home."

North Point Recreation Area on Lake Francis Case was hit severely as well, with the state reporting a destroyed comfort station, many electric pedestals and all grass areas ruined, a gazebo and group shelter destroyed, and a portion of a paved bike path taken out.

"We pretty much have to gut the comfort station," said Eric Schoenfelder, park manager. "We have to completely remodel it, re-sheetrock and disinfect."

Employees also spent a lot of time cleaning up debris and removing trees.