A QUICK CLEANUPLake Recreational areas are opening sooner than expected after flooding woes

The road into Waitsboro Recreation Area is all clear on the shoreline of Lake Cumberland in Somerset, Ky. The campground is opening Memorial Day weekend. (USACE Photo)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Thursday nearby recreational areas along Lake Cumberland damaged by record high levels of the lake in February are opening sooner than expected.

The campground at Waitsboro Recreation Area, projected to be closed until just before Labor Day weekend, will open Memorial Day weekend, according to Lee Roberts, chief of public affairs for the Corps' Nashville District. The boat ramp at Waitsboro has been open since March 29.

The day use area at Fishing Creek Recreation Area, originally thought to be closed until about July, opened May 2, and the campground at Fishing Creek opened May 10.

Kendall Boat Ramp on the Cumberland River below Wolf Creek Dam received temporary repairs and reopened May 3. Lakeview boat ramp near Burnside opened May 3.

Bee Rock Campground, spread on both sides of the Rockcastle River near Mt. Victory, was heavily damaged by backwaters from Lake Cumberland, and, according to the U.S. Forest Service, will not open until next year.

Pulaski County Park is up and going, but planned relocation of the popular beach area was delayed because of high water. General Burnside Island State Park was closed while the causeway was under water, but reopened as soon as the island could be accessed.

Michael Boles, Lake Cumberland Resource manager, said the entire staff engaged in cleanup and repair work to get Corps-operated recreational sites along Lake Cumberland ready for use. The Corps used contractors for shoreline cleanup.

Boles said there were massive amounts of wood and man-made debris deposited in the parks as the lake receded from its high point at elevation 756.52, some 33 feet above the tree line. This was four feet higher than the lake has even been since it was impounded in 1951.

The high water level greatly impacted Fishing Creek and Waitsboro Campgrounds and day use areas. Electrical pedestals were flooded requiring replacement and state inspection prior to being restored, Boles added.

The Corps team at Lake Cumberland faced huge challenges and started planning the cleanup efforts well before the water receded. Park rangers and facility management staff staged equipment, rearranged schedules and rolled up their sleeves to assist. Rangers also coordinated with various volunteer groups to remove smaller man-made debris, Roberts said.

Cleanup efforts began when the water receded to the point the facilities could be accessed. Contractors started at the smaller parks located at higher elevations. The Corps quickly restored Cumberland Point Recreation Area to offset impacts at more severely impacted recreation areas.

Remarkably, a contractor removed most of the debris at Fishing Creek in little more than a day. The Corps also partnered with the Kentucky Department of Transportation to help remove debris along the roadway at Waitsboro Campground, Roberts noted.

"Since the access road to Waitsboro is a state road and had been flooded, we partnered with them, providing a disposal site for the debris. We allowed them to stage equipment at our boat ramp parking area. They cleared the state road, giving us a path to the campground entrance," Boles said.

When contractors completed work at Fishing Creek, they moved to Waitsboro to begin cleaning. PRIDE of Lake Cumberland chipped a portion of the wood debris and crews burned larger wood cleared from the various recreation areas.

Contractors and Corps staff made electrical repairs. They gutted each flooded campsite electrical pedestal and replaced components. State inspectors cleared Fishing Creek and Waitsboro for power restoration.

High discharges at Wolf Creek Dam during the high water event eroded the river bank damaging nine campsites at Kendall Campground. However, 10 campsites remain closed as an additional campsite is being utilized to accommodate the traffic pattern in the campground.