- Associated Press - Saturday, June 21, 2014

INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota’s swollen rivers and overflowing lakes have taken a toll on business at marinas on the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers, as would-be boaters stay away from intimidating swells or get turned off by no-wake rules.

However, a bigger problem for marina owners is waterlogged timber that flows with the rivers. Logs jam against docks and piers, turning the water into an obstacle course, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported (http://bit.ly/1iXcFee ) Saturday.

“It is dangerous. No one is going boating. No one is buying gas,” said Roger Anderson, a manager at the St. Paul Yacht Club.

The record-breaking rains across the state have led to flooded basements, closed roads and damaged crops. But even when the brunt of storms misses metro areas, the water ends up in the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers, where it creates high-water headaches.

Marinas expect waters to rise when the snow melts in the spring. But last week marked the third time this year the Mississippi has risen sharply, Anderson said. Each surge carries more waterlogged wood into his marina, he said.

Most comes from the Minnesota River, whose banks aren’t as developed as the Mississippi’s, he said. Water that rises in the Minnesota River is more likely to erode wooded areas and cause trees to topple into the water.

Uprooted trees created such a logjam in the Yacht Club Marina last week that Anderson paid a barge crew about $20,000 to break it up.

He’s not the only one feeling the pinch. On the St. Croix River in Lakeland, high water might force a marina called Beanie’s at Maui’s Landing to close. Workers have sandbagged the gas pumps and are preparing to move the contents of the marina shop - including refrigerators, bait tanks and store merchandise - to higher ground.

“The water level gets high every year, but usually not this late in the spring,” employee Devon McGrath said.

Mike Foster, who works at the Twin City Marina in Inver Grove Heights, spent a day last week trying to break up a school bus-size mass of logs that had crashed into a dock. Amid crashing thunder and driving rain, he and a helper navigated the surging waters and tried to lasso logs to separate them from the pack.

After considerable effort, they dislodged one log and watched it float downstream, where it would likely become someone else’s problem. Then Foster looked upstream to see more logs coming. In the time it took him to free one log, another had banged against the dock.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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