Lake Powell water levels have dropped so much that several boat launches are closed and barge owners have until Saturday to remove their vessels from the main Wahweap site, which is now prohibited from launching barges .
In Wahweap Main, motorized boats can still be launched, but officials advise using only four-wheel-drive vehicles as other vehicles struggle on loose gravel.
Potential water recreation enthusiasts should check the Lake Powell National Park Service website for information on current ramp closures.
“It’s difficult,” said Kendall Neisess, acting public information officer. “It ruins a lot of people’s plans, for sure. “
She added that Wahweap’s main boat launch may have to close in August.
Bullfrog remains open for barges.
Elsewhere around Utah, prolonged drought has forced boat launches to close in seven state parks in Utah. Both Willard Bay ramps are closed. Millsite Reservoir in Emery County is closed, as are the Antelope Island Main Ramp, Echo Main Ramp, Piute Main Ramp, and Painted Rocks in Yuba. The Oasis ramp in Yuba remains open.
In Pineview, Weber County, the Anderson Cove launch site was also closed due to low water levels.
Several other boat launch sites in the state park system are subject to notice, meaning boaters should exercise extreme caution when launching.
These include: Red Fleet, Rockport, Rock Cliff in Jordanelle, Gunlock Main Ramp in Washington County, Great Salt Lake Marina Main Ramp, and Rendezvous Beach in Bear Lake.
The Utah Department of Natural Resources reported last week that 26 of Utah’s 42 largest reservoirs are below 55% capacity and some of the state’s most popular recreation hot spots such as Willard, Strawberry, Deer Creek and Pineview are at lower storage levels than they were at the end of last year’s irrigation season.
State water managers are no longer using water from this year’s runoff season, but instead are tapping into emergency supplies from previous years.
On Tuesday, the Utah Water Resources Division tweeted that Great Salt Lake had equaled the lowest record set in 1963, and is expected to drop below that level in the coming days.
The elevation of the Great Salt Lake equaled the lowest record set in 1963. It is expected to fall below the record in the coming days. Once the daily average drops to 4191.3 for several consecutive days and the provisional data is verified, the new low will be official. #slow down #Drought pic.twitter.com/n9lJo9l7A8
– Utah Water Resources (@ UTAHSavesH2O) July 20, 2021
Devan Chavez, spokesperson for the Utah Parks and Recreation Division, said he can’t remember a year with so many boat launch closures and such poor tank conditions that they are.
“Especially at this start of the season, the water levels we are seeing now are what we saw at the end of last year’s irrigation season,” he said.
Chavez said people should always go out and visit state parks, but should be aware of conditions and investigate ahead of time.
“Check before you go. It is not a swimming pool. The conditions will not be the same every time you go, ”he said. “We don’t want anyone to show up at the state park and not be able to launch their boat. We don’t want anyone to be surprised.
Chavez also warned that with the ramps closing, available boating spots are likely to be more crowded, especially given the holiday weekend ahead, and boaters should be prepared to make alternate choices or show off. patience.
In addition, low tanks expose boaters to potential dangers that deserve extra caution, Chavez said.
“There might be more boating hazards you’re not used to.”
For the latest information on boat launch closures, boating hopefuls can check the division’s website and Chavez also recommended checking out specific park information on their Facebook pages.
Utah boaters should still be able to take advantage of the vacation weekend, but Chavez said the year had been tough due to the drought.
“It’s a book for books for sure,” he said. “It’s a year that I hope we won’t see again.”