Park open to campers as season arrives
by Clarke Davis
The Corps of Engineers has taken advantage of the low water mark on Perry Lake and retrieved several tons of sand that had eroded off the swimming beach over the years.
The lake level has been about 5 1/2 feet below conservation pool most of the winter and early spring.
Lake manager Ken Wade said a Corps crew from the Missouri River brought equipment to dredge the sand out of the nearby cove and place it back up on the bank.
The crew also excavated around all the boat ramps, going out 25 feet to clear the areas of sediment that had washed in over the years. In the process, they cleared the areas of old tires and plenty of trash that came to the surface in the process.
The Corps staff, which consists of Wade and eight other Corps employees, are ready for company. They opened the Slough Creek camping area Tuesday and May 1 the Rock Creek, Longview, and Old Town parks will be opened.
“Our main concern right now is safety,” Wade said. “With the water level low, there are going to be obstacles that boaters need to watch for. We just want people to be careful.”
While many of the services that visitors to the lake appreciate are contracted, there still remains jobs for volunteers.
Contracts are let for mowing, cleaning bath houses, and managing trash removal. However, people who volunteer 20 hours a week can have a free campsite for a week, which normally runs from $12 to $18 a night.
Volunteer work varies from trimming trees to answering the phone in the office.
Perry Lake attracts approximately 800,000 visitors from Memorial Day — the largest weekend — to Labor Day when things begin to close down. Campsite reservations are handled on the Internet.
Wade was introducing Mitch Jackson to Perry Lake last Wednesday. The natural resource specialist is transferring to Perry from Pomme de Terre Lake in southwest Missouri. His wife, Amanda, and their 2-year-old daughter, Lexi, also took the tour.
Jackson will join Bunnie Watkins, the natural resources manager, and two other park rangers on staff. Other personnel consists of two clerical and two in maintenance.
Although employment at the lake is at an all-time low, the lake manager said his budget hasn’t been cut under the current budget problems in Washington.
“We always do what we can to get the most out of every dollar,” he said.
To prove the point, he said the maintenance shed has been equipped with a woodburning stove and the public cuts the wood.
“We have plenty of firewood and if someone will cut us a cord of wood, we let them have two cords,” he said. The normal charge is $25 a cord.
“It has saved us the cost of a lot of propane,” Wade said.
Visitors should find about the same level of maintenance in the public parks, but the “grass may be a little taller,” Wade said.
Approximately 1,000 acres of agricultural lands have been burned off this spring. The Corps has a large agricultural leasing program which returns about $100,000 to the federal coffers.
Two projects under way this spring are running new water lines in the Slough Creek area and treating the asphalt streets with 50,000 linear feet of crack sealant. The Corps can be served by either Rural Water District No. 2 or No. 7 in the Slough Creek area and one of the lines runs under the lake.
“That line is 45 years old and I’m not waiting for it to spring a leak,” Wade said.
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