Great Outdoors: Marinas Set to Re-Open

KNIFE RIVER, Minn. – As of Friday the 17th, Governor Tim Walz expanded Minnesota’s essential services allowing some outdoor recreational activities to fall under that category.

“The first thing we did was get careful and serious about social distancing in the workplace and then we were preparing to shut down,” Barkers Island General Manager, Eric Thomas says.

In Wisconsin, marinas have been considered an essential service all along. But Thomas also runs the marina up in knife river so the recent change in Minnesota is good news.

“We were happy to know that we can begin to get the facility ready so that’s not such a crunch later on in the spring and early summer,” Thomas says.

People storing boats and putting docks in at those locations may now begin to do so.

While Thomas is glad to have both of his facilities opening, he knows that a lot of his patrons come from outside of the state and it won’t be business as usual for awhile.

“A big portion, a third, come from outside the twin ports area. Right now they are heeding the stay at home orders and things like that. So that can’t come to the marina which makes everybody nervous,” Thomas says.

Over in Knife River a similar situation, with a heavy local presence but a lot of people coming from far and wide to use the marina.

“We have a large group of people that come a great distance to use that facility and they are respecting the designs of the state to kind of stay at home or now,” Thomas says.

With over 300 recreational boats at his the barkers island location alone, he and his staff will continue what he calls spring commissioning of the boats- getting them ready for the upcoming season.

Eric Thomas knows it’s only a matter of time before the boaters return.

“We see boating as a way to do some family social distancing with those who are in your household. It’ll be maybe a little time before we’re getting together with friends and distance relatives on a boat but that day will come again,” Thomas says.

Categories: Business, Community, Great Outdoors, Minnesota, News, Wisconsin