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EDITORIAL: Having public access on Burntside open to July 8 is welcome news

Lead Summary

We love our lakes in the North Country and Burntside is right at the top of the list. The lake features beautiful sights, several public beaches and enough bays, arms and islands to spread out the boat traffic.
The one thing Burntside has suffered from is a better public access. There are actually five landings but only one that serves the public efficiently.
Located next to Sandemar off the Van Vac Road, the public access is about to get a much needed facelift with additional parking space, a wider access road and a separate canoe launching area.
But those benefits come at a cost and this year the cost is the Van Vac landing will be closed while the construction work is going on. Originally this was supposed to start by mid-June and run into September.
This past week the DNR office in Tower announced the Van Vac landing will remain open until July 8. There may be some dancing on the beaches to that bit of good news.
Go to Burntside on a hot summer day and you will see all types of users at a public access. There’s boats full of water skiers and swimmers, fishing boats, pontoon cruisers, canoeists, kayakers and even some people just looking at the lake and thinking about jumping in to cool off.
The Van Vac landing was built on a steep hillside with a switchback road and two parking areas. A third parking lot will be added closer to the road to serve another group of users, overnight folks. These can be people who own an island and leave there vehicle at the landing or perhaps they are folks heading into the BWCA on a canoe trip.
The new upper parking lot should help relieve some pressure for the day users who often park alongside the road when the parking lots fill up.
And instead of scaling the hill from the lake level, there will be a better walkway built to get folks safely from the bottom to the top.
These are all much needed improvements but once July 8 hits, people will need to find other options to get on to Burntside.
The other landings are at Burntside Lodge (where you’ll need to park on Hwy. 88), off of Passi Road up the Echo Trail (parking is very limited), off the North Arm Road at Slim Creek (another small landing with not much parking) or on Wolf Lake Road where the DNR built an additional parking lot on the south side of the road that has already been overflowing with vehicles and trailers.
So enjoy the Van Vac public access being open until July 8. This should really help with the July 4 weekend, which is great news.
After July 8, Low Impact Excavators will be hard at work making the improvements so we can all have a better place to access Burntside Lake.
In the meantime, the other public accesses offer options or this could be a good time to explore the White Iron Chain, Shagawa, Birch or even Fall Lake.
Sometimes you have to give a little to get something better in return. Let’s hope we all have patience during this construction period.

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