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Low Water Levels Hurt Boating Industry

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VENETA, Ore. — With the warmer temperatures you might expect everyone to be out on the lake.

But with 14 and a half inches below average rainfall, boaters are nowhere in sight.

While Oregonians have enjoyed the warm dry spring that’s not the case at Fern Ridge Reservoir. It’s where a dry spring means a dry dock.

Low water, no boats, no business for Fern Ridge Shores Marina.

“We do not have enough water that people can use the boat ramp, and we have very few docks that a boat could actually be comfortable docking at right now,” said Dana Keeney, Fern Ridge Shores On-site Manager.

She says there are very few who’ve paid for the entire season, and most people waiting to see what happens before they put in a deposit. But low water levels aren’t stopping all of their fun.

“The owner of the park is very realistic. He said, you know this is going to be a bad year, you just suck up and accept it,” Keeney said.

She says they’re still going to go ahead with their big Fourth of July party. And boaters say they don’t mind too much. They’re just finding other options.

“I’m reduced to kayaking right now. I’m retired and it’s what I do,” said boater Dale Elmblade.

He’s lived here for 12 years and goes out on the water at least twice a day.

“For depth as a rule right now, a small sail boat could come and go, but that’s it,” Elmblade said.

But low water levels are hurting more than just the boating industry. Wildlife live in the marshes, and they may be threatened.

“With the lower water levels we may have to make some decisions about whether to marshes filled, whether to drain marshes in order to do vegetation management,” said Wes Messinger, Army Corps of Engineers Botanist.

Fern Ridge Shores hopes by June 1 the water levels will be high enough for the boats to dock.

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  1. Fly on the wall says:

    The why oh why are they dumping water from the upper reservoirs? there were two spillways open on Lookout this weekend. Does not sound like “conservation” to me…

    Just sayin’

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