“The timing couldn’t have been better ... it was a great conversation piece.”
Carolyn Mounce, executive director of Somerset-Pulaski Con-vention & Visitors Bureau, got the news last Thursday while in Cincinnati getting ready for the Cincinnati Travel, Sports and Boat Show that Lake Cumberland likely will rise 20 feet during this summer’s vacation season. That show is a midwinter bivouac for the “Ohio Navy,” the armada that is the heartbeat of Lake Cumberland during the vacation season.
“I called Kirby (Kirby Stephens Design in Somerset) and had him make an 18 X 24 poster for our booth, and flyers to pass out,” said Mounce. He e-mailed the creations for posting and distribution from the Lake Cumberland booth at the Cincinnati show, Mounce noted.
One man, Mounce said, remarked: “You’ve got to be kidding” when he saw the poster about the lake going to rise.
“He got on his telephone and started calling friends,” Mounce related. But they already knew, indicating how rapidly word spread after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced late last Thursday the lake likely would rise this summer.
The “Ohio Navy” is the backbone of the tourism industry in Lake Cumberland Country. Perception of Wolf Creek Dam in “high risk” of failure and lowering the water level 40 feet have caused some admirals to take their ships else-where, many to Norris Lake in Tennessee. Local promoters of tourism are confident the unmatched beauty of Lake Cum-berland, with its more than 1,200 miles of forested shoreline and an average depth of 90 feet, will bring boaters back to their favorite lake now that it is returning to normal.
Mounce said everybody was asking good questions: How will the water covering banks that have been bare for six summers affect fishing? Will growth underwater hinder boats approaching the bank?
Lake Cumberland has been kept about 40 feet below normal since January 2007. The lower level eased pressure on Wolf Creek Dam during a $594 million rehabilitation of the mile-long structure plagued with uncontrolled seepage.
J.D. Hamilton, owner of Lee’s Ford Marine Resort, says Lake Cumberland will be the most fantastic fishing lake in the United States when waters from a mature lake expand over growth on the banks. Mounce said she explained to booth visitors that vegetation on the banks is not trees, but short growth. It won’t hinder boats.
“The Cincinnati show was well attended,” Mounce said. “We handed out between 700 and 800 brochures about Lake Cumberland, between 600-700 bro-chures on Somernites Cruise and about 200 state-produced broch-ures,” she said.
“I was a little disappointed with media coverage,” Mounce said. The Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet put out a release on the lake annou-ncement and Cincinnati newspapers ran the article on inside pages. Of course, it was the lead story Friday in the Commonwealth Journal and Lexington Herald-Leader.
The planned rise in Lake Cumberland was the “buzz” Thursday night during the annual installation banquet of the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce. And, it was announced from at least one pulpit at a local church Sunday morning.
Mounce is currently talking about Lake Cumberland at the Louisville Boat, RV and Sports Show. The event began Wednesday and continues until 5 p.m. Sunday.