This is going to be a blog post with a few little tidbits of information about a variety of things. Here we go. . . .
I have been getting quite a few inquiries about the status of the Burchard Reservoir project. If you need a reminder about what was going on “down there”, go back and read this, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/2012/02/burchard-lake-meeting/ .
One good thing about the dry weather is that construction projects have had few, if any delays this year because of the weather. As I understand the work at Burchard is proceeding nicely and should be done on schedule if not a little bit early. Here are a couple of recent photos of the progress on the new boat ramp and surrounding area.
Thanks Jake for the pictures!
Now, I have not heard any talk yet of dates for re-opening Burchard. I anticipate those details will be kicked around here soon, but re-opening may depend on water levels. So, the best I can tell you right now is to “stay tuned”. When we know something we will get the word out.
With the hot, dry summer many folks have been concerned with the condition of the fish community in Burchard. The water level in Burchard was dropped 10 feet in order to replace the outlet structure and accomplish the other work, but that still left plenty of water to keep fish alive and as long as they have water they will ride through the summer just fine. I do not anticipate much of a drop, if any, in fish populations or fishing once Burchard is re-opened. I am betting it will be back as good as it ever was, if not better, as soon as it is re-opened.
Victoria Springs and Arnold
Some of you may recall that we were starting Aquatic Habitat Rehabilitation projects at Victoria Springs State Recreation Area (SRA) and at Arnold, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/2012/05/project-updates/ . Those projects are underway and here is what Victoria Springs looks like right now:
And here is what the lake at Arnold currently looks like:
Thank you, Steve for those pictures. Progress is being made on both of those projects; again stay tuned for more progress reports.
OK, back to the topic on everyone’s mind this summer–the heat and drought. Several of our irrigation reservoirs have had water levels dropping like a rock in recent weeks. Unfortunately, that means boat access is becoming a challenge on some of them. I am not going to give boat ramp status reports for every reservoir, but I do want to mention some of the things I have heard recently.
By the time you are reading this, it is likely that there are no boat ramps in operation at Sherman. Water levels there have been dropping at 0.5-0.7 feet per day! I do not have much good news for launching boats on Sherman anytime soon. Next week the Farwell Irrigation District plans to shut off irrigation releases from Sherman for about 4 days. During that time they will run as much water as possible from the Loup River down the feeder canal and into Sherman and that should bring the water level back up a couple, three feet. After that, they intend to again begin releasing water for irrigation and will continue to do so until the end of irrigation season. Therefore, I do not expect the water levels at Sherman to improve much the rest of this summer and maybe well into this fall; unfortunately it does not look like boat ramps will be back in operation for weeks. There is a minimum pool level established for Sherman, so the reservoir should not be drained. By the way, there is a list of websites where you can monitor water levels on several Nebraska reservoirs, including Sherman, and Nebraska rivers and streams, here, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/2011/06/water-water/ .
Water levels are dropping at Merritt Reservoir, and it is getting difficult to launch boats there as well. Folks are looking around there now to see what can be done about extending ramps or perhaps creating new, temporary, low level ramps for launching.
We have some low level ramp options at McConaughy that were in use just a few years ago and recently I have heard that efforts are underway to press some of the low-level ramps back into operation. If you are making a trip out to McConaughy in the coming weeks, plan to stay flexible with your boat launching options. Right now usable concrete boat ramps can be found at the Cedar Vue lakeside ramp, Lemoyne low-water ramp, Martin Bay low-water ramp, Sports Service Bay and Divers Bay.
I suspect boat ramp conditions on other reservoirs might be questionable, but I do not have reports for all of them. Just keep in mind if you are planning a trip to any of our irrigation reservoirs the rest of the summer that you might have to hunt for places to launch boats.
That is all I know for now. I wish I had better news.
Pray for rain.