Coinciding with opening the boat ramp, Gov. Dennis Daugaard will modify the boating ban that was previously put in place on upper Lake Sharpe. Effective at 8 a.m. CDT on Friday, July 22, 2011, boating will again be allowed on Hipple Lake at Farm Island Recreation Area, and also the main channel of the Missouri River, from the Farm Island Causeway downstream to Big Bend Dam.
However, to continue protecting flood-prevention levees, homes and other private property along the river, the upper reaches of Lake Sharpe from Oahe Dam downstream to the Farm Island Causeway will remain closed.
The new boating order will be in effect until rescinded or modified by the Governor. State law gives the Governor authority to prohibit or restrict recreational use or navigation on any portion of a river, lake or stream to protect the public peace, health, or safety, according to Jeff Vonk, Secretary of the Department of Game, Fish and Parks.
“Reduced water flow out of Oahe Dam now allows us the opportunity to reopen the boat ramp on Hipple Lake at Farm Island Recreation Area,” said Vonk. “With the flooding below Oahe Dam throughout June and much of July, it’s been a long summer for people of Pierre and Fort Pierre who normally enjoy the recreational opportunities on this stretch of the Missouri River. The Governor’s action to reopen Hipple Lake and a portion of the main Missouri River channel on Lake Sharpe downstream from the Farm Island Causeway will allow anglers and boaters the chance to enjoy the final few weeks of the summer.”
Those who plan to use the boat ramp at Farm Island should be aware there will still be some water on the parking lot next to the ramp. In addition, Vonk cautions boaters to beware of floating debris and changes in the river channel in the areas that have been reopened.
“We know there will be changes in the river channel caused by high water flows,” Vonk said. “We want to encourage boaters to be very cautious about floating debris, changes in the location of sandbars and other potential hazards that may exist in the area that is reopened.”
The upper reaches of Lake Sharpe from Oahe Dam downstream to the Farm Island Causeway remains closed to boating so that levees, homes and other flooded property remain protected for the duration of this historic flood event.
Notices of the modification to the boating closure area will be posted at boating access sites in the affected area along the Missouri River. A violation of the public waterway restriction is a Class 2 Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, a fine of $500 or both.