Those who are going to the lake at Whipple Dam State Park may have to wait until next spring, as it is being drawn down for improvements.
According to a press release from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the reason behind the drawdown is to remove accumulated sediment from the lake bed to help with the ecological health of the lake and restore recreational opportunities impeded by silt.
As of right now, the silt averages 3.5 feet in depth throughout the lake.
Mike Dinsmore, manager for Whipple Dam State Park, said the process has already started.
“We do it in steps,” he said. “There’s an antique draw structure, as the dam was built in the 1930s. We have to pull stop logs, and place 4x6-inch pieces of lumber in the front of it, and drop the lake levels down 6 inches at a time.”
“We’re going to start drudging after that, because the upper end of the lake is full of sediment,” Dinsmore added.
Additional projects will be completed including the installation of a wheelchair-accessible ramp into the swimming area; construction of a new wheelchair-accessible fishing pier; paving repairs to roadways; and improvements to the dam structure.
Park roads or portions of park roads may be closed while the project is underway.
According to Dinsmore, the last time the lake was drawn down at Whipple Dam was in late 2012, early 2013 to freeze out an evasive species.
During this process, DCNR is working with the state Fish and Boat Commission regarding some fish in the lake.
“We’re working with them to potentially find and relocate fish out of the lake into other lakes most likely,” said Dinsmore.
The work is expected to be completed by next spring, pending any delays because of weather.
“We’re hoping to be done by spring time to get into the regular fishing and swimming season, but we’re at the mercy of the weather,” said Dinsmore. “If we get a cold, dry winter, the contractor can do it without a problem. If we get a warm, wet winter, and the sediment will be wet, that will give us a bunch of delays.”
Though there will be a little bit of water, it will only be seen in a channel as well as a couple of low spots during the drawdown.
Fishing and boating will be permitted until the lake is at full drawdown, but as the water level recedes, boating access will be severely limited. The boat launch will eventually be unavailable. Once the lake is draw down to the level needed to facilitate the work, it will be closed to all activities.
The road to the lake will also have limited access during the project.