One of the most popular questions in my office this week is the one that titles this blog post. Folks assume that since it has been raining, the new boat ramp at Burchard must be open already:
Burchard Lake filling slowly– boat ramp remains closed
An aquatic habitat rehabilitation project at Burchard Reservoir a couple of years ago required an 11-foot draw down to repair the outlet structure. During the project, enough water remained in the reservoir to maintain the high-quality fishery, but since completion, water levels have been slow to return to full pool. While this spring’s rains have caused flooding in many areas of the state, the Burchard Lake watershed is almost entirely grass which slows re-filling. However, that grass watershed also maintains the excellent water quality and habitat responsible for the superb fishery in Burchard.
While access to the shoreline at Burchard is open for bank angling, the newly constructed boat launch facility is still closed until water levels allow for the safe launching of boats from trailers. Launching of small vessels, including Jon boats, kayaks, canoes and float tubes, is allowed as long as they are carried from the road and launched from the shoreline. All vehicles must remain on roads or in parking lots. Electric trolling motors are allowed on these vessels; however, the use of internal combustion gas-powered engines is prohibited at this time. With the current low water level, gas-powered engines could damage new habitat features and access improvements. Use of the new boat ramp, dock and gas-powered engines is prohibited until water levels allow safe launching conditions. Currently, water levels are rising, but an additional vertical foot of water is needed before vehicle launching of boats will be allowed.
Many improvements were made during the rehabilitation project, including a new outlet structure and the new boat launch facility. In addition, shoreline angler access has been improved and a handicap-accessible fishing pier has been installed. Offshore breakwaters were placed to protect shorelines, and a sediment dike and basin were added on the reservoir’s north arm. Aquatic habitat was enhanced by deepening water levels near new breakwaters and by placing underwater rock shoals and cedar tree fish attractors in the reservoir basin.
Water is flowing into Burchard even as I type, and weather forecasts continue to contain rain. So, the situation at Burchard may change in the coming weeks, but as of right now, NO, the new boat ramp is NOT open. We still need a little more water. Stay tuned, when it is open, we will let everyone know! Until then, take a float tube down there, take a small boat you can drag to the water and GO FISH!
Have a great weekend everyone, do not let the forecast keep you from spending some time on the water!
But, do not forget the reason for this holiday weekend!