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Blake Nicholson, Associated Press, Published May 24 2012

North Dakota park campground reopening year after flooding

MANDAN, N.D. – When the campground at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park south of here reopens on June 1, it will mark another milestone in North Dakota’s recovery efforts following historic flooding last year.

“With the Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park campground open, the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department returns to its pre-flood state,” Director Mark Zimmerman said. “It’s been a long road. Just about every state park was affected by flooding in 2011, and campgrounds at Sully Creek State Park and Cross Ranch State Park were also closed and had to go through extensive repairs.

“A lot of hard work and money have been put into bringing the parks back to the condition visitors have come to expect,” he said.

The hardest-hit parks were Sully Creek, which was flooded by the Little Missouri River, and Cross Ranch and Fort Abraham Lincoln, flooded by the Missouri, department spokesman Gordon Weixel said Thursday.

Parts of Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park were covered by as much as 7 feet of river water last summer. Trees, cabins and electrical utilities were damaged, and as much as a foot of silt was left behind when the water receded.

Repairs began when floodwaters receded in early September and continued throughout the winter, Park Manager Dan Schelske said. The effort involved more than 100 park staff, Parks and Recreation officials, contractors and volunteers such as local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops.

Schelske estimated the cost of repairs at $250,000 and the lost camping revenue at $260,000.

“This one was pretty devastating,” he said.

Some of the flood repairs might be covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to Weixel.

Parks and Recreation is still tallying the amount of repairs across the state park system, Weixel said. There are 13 state parks, and the department has never before experienced a year like 2011 – “Not where everything was im-pacted,” he said.

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