Locked-up lake angers boaters
Sharon and Don Himenes like canoeing in Scotts Flat Reservoir. But the couple got tired of schlepping their 16-foot boat all the way down the Cascade Shores boat ramp.
“To carry that and all your junk all the way from the parking lot is a lot of work,” Sharon Himenes said.
So two years ago, the Himeneses bought a seasonal boating/day pass from Nevada Irrigation District. For $120 a year, they got a plastic key card that unlocks the boat ramp’s gate.
At least it did until September.
NID padlocked (and later welded) the gate closed because the reservoir’s water was drawn way down, leaving the boat ramp high and dry.
“Boating season was over when the reservoir dropped below the ramp,” said Ben Barretta, NID assistant general manager.
NID officials worried that if someone tried to launch a boat, his or her vehicle might flip over or get stuck, possibly resulting in injury or the pollution of the reservoir – a main water supply for Nevada County.
“We really felt it was a safety and a water quality issue,” Barretta said.
“Part of the problem is (Scotts Flat) is marketed as a lake, but it’s a reservoir. Reservoirs come up and reservoirs go down,” he said. “Why would you want to launch a boat down a ramp and (into) some really silty mud when you’re going to get your boat and probably your car stuck?”
The Himenes aren’t happy with the boat ramp’s closure.
“We’re paying $120 a year and it’s like … for what? We can’t get in,” Sharon Himenes said. She and her husband would like to be able to drive to the end of the boat ramp and then launch their canoe.
The Himenes were among some 80 people who signed a petition at the Cascade Shores General Store demanding year round access to the lake, regardless of its water level.
The petition’s author, Jon Sandberg, said, “A lot of people have kayaks and small canoes, and they have to carry them in past the gate. Other people want to drive in and fish. There’s other uses than (launching) a boat.”
Sandberg’s petition reads in part, “We have great concern for the safety of the walk-in users of the picnic area as emergency and safety personnel are denied access for their vehicles and equipment because the gate is welded closed.”
Barretta said a meeting is in the works with seasonal-pass holders and NID officials, including new general manager Ron Nelson and NID director Nancy Weber, who represents the Cascade Shores area.
No date has been set for the meeting.
Long-term, NID is working to get state grant money to improve recreation facilities at Scotts Flat Reservoir, Barretta said. It would include extending the Cascade Shores boat ramp to improve boaters access when the reservoir is low.
A longer boat ramp with better low-water access exists at the
campground on the other side of Scotts Flat reservoir.
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