Recent Rains have Boaters and Anglers Singing

Rains improve boating access at several central-Kansas lakes


Singing in the rain; that’s what some state park managers, boaters and anglers were doing last week.

After two years of drought conditions, low lake levels and limited boating access, recent rains have been well received.

Heavy rain in central Kansasbrought a welcomed change to Kanopolis Reservoir in Ellsworth County, and no one is happier than Rick Martin, Kanopolis State Park manager. Kanopolis Reservoir had been so low over the past year that boat ramps were high and dry. After a little inflow and some dredging work by park staff early this summer, one boat ramp allowed boaters on the water. However, water levels were less than ideal for recreation and fishing. According to Martin, that changed this week with the rain and the lake is predicted to be above normal conservation pool level by the weekend. And while that will allow the marina to open, make most boat ramps usable, and the beaches to open, the level will still be below what is considered the ideal summer elevation. Kanopolis is normally held at 4 feet above conservation for the summer recreation season.

That’s music to Martin’s ears because he wants to see the state park full of happy campers. While Kanopolis State Park offers a variety of outdoor fun, including hiking, biking and horse riding trails, boating and angling are big draws.

Other reservoirs returning to normal include El Dorado and Marion. El Dorado Reservoir came up two feet and was 2.5 feet below conservation pool level on July 31. Marion Reservoir came up to just above conservation pool level as of July 31. Cheney Reservoir west of Wichitaalso saw some increased inflows, but still remains below conservation pool. The boat ramp in Marina Cove at Cheney allows boating access.

Heavy rains farther east pushed Toronto Reservoir to almost 7 feet above normal; however Cross Timbers State Park manager Kimberly Jones didn’t anticipate any impact on state park activities. Fall River Reservoir had risen just 2 feet above conservation pool by July 31.

And while summer fun is still on everyone’s radar, duck hunters are keeping an eye on Cheyenne Bottoms, which finally received some runoff this week. Water is being diverted into the deep-water storage pool to prevent evaporation loss. With water stored, hunting pools can be flooded this fall just prior to hunting season.

Some parts of western Kansasstill feel the effects of long-term drought, but recent rains have improved conditions and perhaps show a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.