A number of lakes were added to the list of closures Tuesday in Whiteshell Provincial Park.
A local state of emergency was declared on May 20th for Whiteshell Provincial Park due to rising water levels within the park. All developed areas at Betula Lake were closed on May 21st. This closure area was expanded on Tuesday to include Sylvia Lake, Otter Falls, Dorothy Lake, Barrier Bay and Nutimik Lake areas. No person should reside or enter the closed area.
The closure requires all residents and park users to evacuate the area. This applies to all cottage subdivisions, commercial areas, campgrounds, group use, day use, recreational and picnic areas, playgrounds, trails, and beaches within the order area. During the closure, no person should reside or enter the closure area of the park.
Water continues to rise along the lakes that make up the Winnipeg River system (Nutimik, Dorothy, Margaret, Eleanor, and Sylvia Lakes as well as Pointe du Bois) as water moves downstream from Lake of the Woods. Water levels rise quickly in these areas due to natural restrictions along the river. The Winnipeg River is expected to crest in June. Water levels are projected to be as much as two feet above the May 21st water level. Rising water levels and rapidly evolving conditions are posing a significant risk to public safety.
Manitoba Parks has been contacting all permanent residents in the closure area. If you have not been contacted by Manitoba Parks staff to register you are asked to call the parks line at 204-340-6769 and leave a message with your name, lot, block, subdivision and asking to be added to the permanent residents list. You will then be called back to register.
Water levels remain high throughout Whiteshell Provincial Park. Falcon, West Hawk, Star, Caddy, and Brereton are reporting a slight decrease or remaining stable over the last two days. Jessica and White lakes all report increases Tuesday from Monday. Manitoba Parks staff are working in conjunction with staff from the department of Manitoba, Transportation and Infrastructure to monitor lake levels and adjust control structures where possible. This includes monitoring structures for blockages. The Basket Falls Control structure is currently being impacted by floating bog and debris. Manitoba Parks and MTI are working to rectify the situation.
Crescent Beach seawall at West Hawk is barricaded and closed. Pay attention to signage, and barricades. The travel lane has been moved away from the wall and is narrow in spots, please travel slowly. Cottages in the Crescent Beach, High Rock, McKenzie Beach, and Hunt Lake subdivisions should be aware of the potential for a re-route in the event of further damage to the seawall.
Sandbags for filling and sand are available for cottage owners at: the 8 Foot Falls Road in Pointe du Bois, Jessica Lake at the garbage collection site, the parking lot across from Brereton Lake Resort, the West Hawk maintenance yard, and the causeway at Falcon Lake.
PR 307 from the west park entrance to the PR 307/309 junction and PR 312 near Caddy Lake is closed to all traffic. PR 309 near Meditation Lake is restricted to local traffic only.
Water is present on several block roads throughout the park. White Lake Block 4 is closed to vehicle use. The following block roads should not be crossed in a smaller vehicle until the water recedes: High Rock Road at West Hawk, and Jessica Lake Block 5-6-7-8. Caution should be used when travelling through flooded areas.
The following boat launches are closed in addition to those in the park closure area: 8 Foot Falls, West Hawk, Big Creek, Otter Falls, White Lake, Jessica Lake, South Shore Big Whiteshell, Toniata, Brereton Lake North Shore (Inverness Falls), and Falcon Beach Campground. All boat traffic should be cautious of debris and items submerged below the surface. Please be advised that you cannot visit the closed area of the park by boat. Access is not allowed to your cottage or recreational areas via the Winnipeg River. No landing in the closed area is allowed.
To minimize potential erosion caused by boat wakes, recreational motorboat restrictions are in place. Recreational motorboat traffic is prohibited from operating within 100 metres of the shoreline on: West Hawk, Falcon, Caddy, Star, Brereton, Jessica, White, Big Whiteshell, Betula, Nutimik, Dorothy, Margaret and Eleanor lakes in Whiteshell Provincial Park. When exiting or approaching the shoreline, boats should move directly out from land and avoid creating a wake.
The following hiking trails are closed in addition to those in the park closure area: Alfred Hole, the Marsh Trail (between Falcon Lake Marina and Beach Campground), TransCanada Trail at Penniac Bay, and Hunt Lake.
Extreme caution should be used with travelling the upstream portion of the Winnipeg River (Pointe du Bois to Lamprey Falls).
All backcountry campsites in Whiteshell Provincial park are closed due to flooding, high water conditions and frequently changing portage conditions.
Campers should check the Manitoba Parks homepage for the status of campgrounds prior to coming to the park. Several campgrounds have full or partial closures. All campground in the closure area will remain closed until this portion of the park reopens (Dorothy Lake, Opapiskaw, Nutimik Lake, and Otter Falls). In addition White Lake Campground is closed (seasonal and nightly) and nightly camping is closed in Big Whiteshell Campground.