Keeping Kids Safe in Northland Parks

Posted at: 05/23/2013 5:39 PM
Updated at: 05/23/2013 5:48 PM
By: Travis Dill

Thousands of students visit Jay Cooke State Park every year. DNR officials said flood damage is a danger, but strict rules will keep kids safe.

Jay Cooke is open and sunshine drew some field trips to the park on Thursday. DNR Naturalist Kistine Hiller said she works hard to keep students safe and sound while at the park.

“I personally have very specific rules as to where our kids on field trips go here in the park and where they don't go,” Hiller said.

She said they never allow students near the river, and flood damage from last summer has damaged trails and roads throughout the park. Hiller said those sections are a danger for anyone visiting the park.

“Up on the highway there's a huge break and that is sliding away on the edges. So we do tell people to be cautious. Those edges still might slide away. They should stay very far back; they should be respectful of that,” Hiller said.

Third grade students from Esko and Cloquet stopped by the park on Thursday, and teacher Derek Anderson said he was keeping an eye on each of his students.

“Definitely found out, in the classroom even, that I have a protective instinct that I was unaware of so that has definitely come into play,” Anderson said.

He said his students and their parent escorts were strictly following the DNR rules.

“They can't go anywhere near the water, and they can't climb on rocks. We told them they can't even get muddy,” Anderson said. “They'll definitely get enough nature, and we're still planning on going out on the trails, but our main thing is to keep them safe.”

The DNR has closed a some trails, but Hiller said the public can still have fun and stay safe.

“The vast majority of our visitors do have an enjoyable time here. Just use common sense,” Hiller said.

The DNR said about 3,500 kids visit Jay Cooke every year on field trips and with summer camps.