Commonwealth Journal

Local News

February 9, 2007

The Lowdown on Lake Cumberland

Plans underway to extend some boat ramps

The resource manager for Lake Cumberland said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is meeting Monday with contractors about extending boat-launching ramps into the water.

Craig Shoe, speaking to a luncheon meeting of the Somerset Kiwanis Club, remarked: “I hope we’ve got work going in a week and a half or two weeks (on extending boat ramps).” He said the contractors will be told “If you can’t go to work soon, don’t bid.”

The ramps are out of the water because the lake level is scheduled to reach 680 feet above sea level, or 43 feet below the tree line, on Monday and remain at that level throughout this year. The water has been lowered to ease pressure on Wolf Creek Dam, classified by the Corps as a “high risk” of failure.

Shoe said only two of the 48 improved ramps on the lake are usable for boat launching. These are at Grider Hill and Jamestown marinas, he noted. An improve ramp is one with at least 10 parking spaces.

According to Shoe, the Corps now has money to improve accessibility to the lake. The Corps is authorized to extend ramps at 10 marinas and four Corps sites on the lake. Ramps owned by counties and the state, like the ramp at General Burnside Island State Park, are not included in the Corps’ improvement authority.

“Our biggest goal is to get ramps in the water,” said Shoe. However, despite the promised effort, Shoe estimated that the lake will have 35-40 percent less access this summer.

Shoe called “staggering” the impact Lake Cumberland has on the Cumberland River system.

“Fifty percent of the water that goes through Nashville in the summer comes from Lake Cumberland,” Shoe noted. He said keeping Lake Cumberland at a low level will impact operations at other dams on the Cumberland River.

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