State fishing lake progress continues
It may be Independence Day when the water returns to Douglas County State Fishing Lake for real.
The lake north of Baldwin City was drained in the fall to allow work on the dam, which was built in the early 1960s, and other work around the lake. A public fish salvage was conducted in January and crews have been hard at the process of bringing the lake back to life ever since.
If all goes according to plan, the lake will start refilling in about two months.
"It will be filling this summer," said Russell LaForce, project leader for Kansas Wildlife and Parks. "It'll probably be after the Fourth of July. I'm not sure. That's up to Richard's (fisheries biologist Sanders) schedule."
It will be up to Mother Nature's schedule for how soon the lake will be full.
"It will take two years of annual average rainfall," said LaForce. "If we have a couple of 100-year-flood situations and it would fill up pretty good."
Likewise, if rains aren't average, it will take more time for the lake to refill.
But, regardless, when the lake does come back, it will be better. Many improvements have been made to bank areas, the bottom of the lake with fish structure and, of course, the dam itself.
"It's gone pretty well," said LaForce. "No major changes, which is good. The last week of dry weather helped. The contractor was able to finish the dirt work on the backside of the dam."
Wildlife and Parks will get a tour Friday of the progress.
"We're going to have a walk-through Friday," he said. "It looks like they should get done out there next week. All the fish structure is done.
"Richard's going to have to drain it out," said LaForce. "He wants to leave it (the drain) open for a week and get the fish killed out. Then it will be closed for a week and reopened."
It will be awhile, yet, but soon Douglas County State Fishing Lake will be back. The rough fish will be gone, it will be restocked and the fishing should be good, he said.