Jan. 30 Newsletter on Lake Cumberland/Wolf Creek Dam
Friends of Lake Cumberland –
There is a terrific article at the end of this newsletter from the Kentucky Enquirer talking about how the “Ohio Navy” still plans on making the trip to Lake Cumberland this summer. Its good reading.
The Army Corps of Engineers has produced a map showing what ramps will be accessible.
If you ever have any questions, please e-mail them back to me at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try and get you an answer. Although many answers we don’t know yet – such as specific times and costs, etc.
The fishing information from yesterday proved so popular, the KY Department for Fish and Wildlife Resources created another document, below, dealing with the same topic. It is in the “Items of Interest” section.
Governor Fletcher continues to make the Lake Cumberland/Wolf Creek Dam situation a top priority. It is fair to say EVERY aspect of state government is touched by this and EVERY aspect of state government is now involved. For example, the Finance and Administration Cabinet is looking at tax and revenue numbers to the Economic Development Cabinet looking at loans, grants and other possibilities.
If folks are interested in learning more about the KY Tourism Development Loan Program – you are STRONGLY encouraged to contact Todd Cassidy at the KY Dept. of Tourism at 502-564-8067 or email@example.com. It generally takes as long as securing a regular bank loan, but it could take longer. A review board is expected to meet soon.
LET FOLKS KNOW THEY CAN VIEW THIS AND PAST NEWSLETTERS BY GOING TO www.commerce.ky.gov AND SCROLLING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE AND LOOKING IN THE “NEWS” SECTION.
ITEMS OF INTEREST
Lake Cumberland Drawdown Information Sheet
Fishing at Lake Cumberland should be good in 2007. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to draw Lake Cumberland down to 680 feet above mean sea level at least until this coming fall.
The drawdown should increase the condition and weight of predator fish such as black bass, walleye, crappie, bluegill and striped bass. The reduction in volume of water and surface acreage will concentrate the baitfish with the predator fish. This should improve fishing and the growth of predator fish may also increase.
The drawdown will spur the growth of grass and weeds along newly exposed shorelines. If the lake remains low enough for a long enough period of time, new woody growth such as brush and saplings may occur. This new vegetation will be flooded when lake levels return to normal, creating a “new lake” effect in fish populations. Young fish will have more places to hide and adult predator fish such as largemouth bass will have more places to ambush prey. This will result in the production of strong year classes of fish.
The cover provided by the newly flooded vegetation should especially benefit largemouth bass and bluegill populations. Largemouth bass love heavy cover in which to hide during the day. Heavy cover also provides shelter from severe weather and cold fronts.
Fish Populations in the lake - Concerns
The drawdown will reduce shoreline spawning (breeding) habitat for black bass, crappie, and panfish. The reduction of spawning habitat increases competition for suitable spawning areas. The reduction in total volume and area of the lake may also increase predation of young fish. Largemouth bass are probably the most vulnerable to this phenomenon. Biologists and technicians will sample the largemouth bass population in Lake Cumberland later this year to determine if the lake experienced a poor spawning year.
Each winter as water temperatures settle into the mid-40s, a large amount of cold water with lots of dissolved oxygen is stored in the depths of Lake Cumberland. This band of winter stored water provides the habitat for walleye and striped bass until replenished the next winter. The drawdown of the lake likely will reduce and compress this layer of cool oxygenated water vital to walleye and striped bass.
Spring time rainfall brings warm water that gradually replaces the cool/cold water as it is released through the turbine system at the dam. At normal water levels in Lake Cumberland, the lake could sustain those warm spring rains and not lose the cool water habitat left over from winter.
A drawdown to a lake elevation of 680 feet above mean sea level results in less volume of winter-stored water. This leaves less residual cool water to buffer the potential loss from warm rainfall. The situation will become critical only during a high rainfall year. A normal rainfall year should not create any problem.
A dry spring and early summer is the best scenario as the cool water zone should stay in the lake providing the vital habitat for walleye and striped bass. If we have a wet spring and early summer, the cool water zone may get pulled through the dam and into Cumberland River.
The 680 feet above mean sea level elevation in the lake results in an overall decrease in the amount of cold water storage in the lake. This cold water supply used in electrical generation through the turbines provides the 75 miles of cold water habitat in the river below the dam.
Again, a high rainfall year will replace this cold water in the lake with warmer water. Also, higher flows through the dam to maintain the 680 elevation will possibly compound the loss of cold water.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on release methods to mitigate this potential problem. During a normal rainfall year, a serious problem is not expected.
The Fisheries Division of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have different options under consideration to maintain the trout production needed to continue stocking Kentucky’s trout waters. The Wolf Creek Hatchery produces hundreds of thousands of trout annually for stocking.
If spring rains cause a scarcity of cold water habitat in the lake, the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery will be forced to take remedial action.
There is a possibility of pumping cold water from the river into Wolf Creek Hatchery. Workers could also inject oxygen into the water if needed. However, both of these options require new funds which are not available at this time.
2231 26th Ave. N., Nashville. _ Monday, Feb. 12, Hendersonville City Hall, 101 Maple Drive N., Hendersonville.
Corps of Engineers Public Meeting Schedule
_ Tuesday, Feb. 6, 6:30 p.m., Metro North Police Precinct,
_ Thursday, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m., Gallatin City Hall, 132 W. Main St., Gallatin. ___
On the Net: Corps Nashville District: http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/
RECENT NEWS ARTICLES
Boaters: We'll keep coming
BY SHANNON RUSSELL
Lowered water levels at Lake Cumberland won't deter some area residents from frequenting the lake - as long as the environment remains safe and they can get their boats in the water.
Last Monday, federal authorities announced plans to decrease the lake's water level to alleviate pressure on a weakened Wolf Creek Dam in Kentucky's Russell County. Seepage in the dam's foundation has triggered fears about the dam breaking, causing flooding.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is lowering the lake by 10 feet. Cumberland will remain at 680 feet through the year, and the corps' Nashville District will re-evaluate water level next September or October. Normal pool levels are 723 feet in the summer, making the adjusted level 43 feet lower during that time.
Bill Peoples, chief of public affairs at the corps' Nashville office, said the staff is looking at a mitigation plan for adding extensions to all boat ramps. He said there are 48 boat ramps at the lake, and 40 will be unusable for the duration of the recreation season "unless something is done to them."
Peoples said there is authorization and federal funding to extend 10 ramps, including seven at marinas.
"We're putting together a plan for the other 30," Peoples said. "They're owned by other entities ... and we're looking for a way to assist them in funding."
There isn't a timetable for the extensions yet, Peoples said.
Loveland resident Jim Durham, owner of StriperFun Guide Service and a 42-year boater at Lake Cumberland, has been studying the situation for his weekly fishing report. His advice? Don't panic.
Durham said the lake's winter level is roughly the same as the lowered level, so the shift is currently slight.
Fishing boats can always be launched from alternative locations as long as their owners have four-wheel drive, he said.
If there's a silver lining, it's that lowered levels will decrease debris, Durham said.
"(Normally) debris gets pushed to the shore, and water comes up and picks up the wood off the banks. Now the water isn't going to rise to pick it up," Durham said.
Durham estimates the lake will shrink to half its size, roughly 35,000 acres. He described that area as "still huge."
Crescent Springs resident Chris Zimmer agrees. The decreased lake area may prevent boaters from docking in some coves, and gathering spots will have to move, but Zimmer doesn't expect the lake's shrinkage to stop recreation.
"At the end of the day, it's still going to be a big lake," Zimmer said.
While questions remain - like potential crowding on the lake, or economic effects on Cumberland businesses - many Cumberland fans, such as Randy Eibel of Lakeside Park, say they won't stay away. Eibel, who vacations and boats on the lake with his wife, Sandy, said "it's pretty hard to tell" how changes will affect lake-goers.
Leslie Meier just hopes the area remains safe. She and her husband, Mike, former Edgewood residents who live in Nashville, are among the lake's 4.7 million-plus visitors each year.
"If we can't boat for a summer, that would be a shame," Leslie Meier said. "But safety is a number one priority."
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