High waters at area lakes to hinder July 4 recreation
Jet skiing, tubing and most camping might be off limits this Independence Day at both Perry and Clinton lakes, where historically high waters are complicating holiday recreation.
While a primitive campground is open at Perry State Park, most campgrounds with electrical hookups are limited and the state cabins are closed, said Michelle Campbell, who manages the park.
“Camping is nonexistent on the Army Corps side of Perry Lake,” said R.J. Harms, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager for Perry and Clinton lakes.
However, camping sites are open at Clinton, where the lake’s shoreline is currently flooded at a record high of 21.2 feet above its normal average of 875.5 feet above sea level.
Despite beaches and boat ramps remaining underwater, Clinton still has some appeal, Harms said, even if it’s just to see the record high water. Plus, kayaking and canoeing are permitted, but people have to launch the boats from the shore, not ramps. Also, there is no sandy beach, and Harms urged people to use caution if they do get in the water.
Over at Perry, no swimming is allowed, Campbell said, as warning barricades make clear. However, she said kayaking was permitted.
It’s been a frustrating spring and summer, Campbell said. Flooding affected Memorial Day weekend at the lakes, and now it’s affecting July 4. The water level Tuesday at Perry was at 26.20 feet above its normal average of 891.50 feet above sea level.
Harms said they were now releasing up to 6,000 cubic feet of water per second at Perry Lake. They will continue the release for several weeks.
“If people can’t get boats in the water, they don’t want to come. We get a lot of angry calls that we are ruining people’s vacation times,” Campbell said. “It’s not a fun time for us. The park is hurting.”
However, she says recreational opportunities still exist at Perry Lake.
They won’t be getting on the water with jet skis and tubes but they can hike, enjoy the wildlife, bird watch and sit around a campfire and talk,” Campbell said. “It’s a great place to disconnect from the world.”
The weather should be good most of Thursday, with only a 25 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms.
“It won’t be a complete washout,” said Matt Wolters, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Topeka. For those planning outdoor activities, he suggested keeping an eye out for a shower in the late afternoon through early evening.
Fireworks displays shouldn’t be hampered, Wolters said. By dusk, temperatures are expected to be in the upper 70s with light winds and a partly cloudy sky.