Green Country Waterways Calm Again After Summer Of Flooding

Wednesday, August 26th 2015, 6:28 pm
By: Tess Maune

All the rain we've had this year basically took away more than a month of summer fun for people who enjoy going to lakes and rivers.

But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says even though fall is just a few weeks away, there's still summer fun to be had.

Classes have started at most schools, which means a lot of folks consider summer to be over, but the Corps of Engineers says that is not the case. There is still plenty to do on lakes and rivers around Green Country, and rangers say if you plan on coming out, you need to be smart and safe.

It was a quiet morning on the Arkansas River -- a calmness that is easily broken by the buzz of a chilly airboat ride.

Keystone Lake lead Ranger Travis Miller is patrols the area, and because the river has pockets of shallow water and plenty of sand bars, he says the airboat is his best option.

“On Keystone Lake, having two major rivers that flow into it, a good portion of our jurisdiction is in an area where we can't take our patrol boat, for example,” Miller said. “It's too deep of a draft boat.”

During the peak of summer, the Corps of Engineers was on 24-hour flood watch. Miller worked an overnight shift every 12 hours for more than a month straight. It has been anything but a typical lake and river season.

“Well, we can say up and down, but it's been more up than down because the lake was 30 feet above normal for quite some time,” Miller said.

But things finally are starting to look normal again and fisherman are back on the water.

And rangers are back to making sure boaters are following the rules.

Miller says over the next few months there will be an influx of hunters along these banks, some scouting deer, others looking for ducks.

The same boating rules apply whether you're hunting or fishing and whether you're on a lake or a river.

And while there are many safety laws in place, Miller says wearing a life jacket while you're in, on and even near the water is one of the most important.

“When folks get in a bind, they get caught up in the current or something to that effect, they'll panic and won't think to stand up. We've had drownings in 4 feet of water,” Miller said.