A combination of high water and the threat of the Coronavirus is shutting down many of the amenities along Lake Texoma.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced this weekend that it is canceling reservations for it’s managed campsites through mid-May. Meanwhile, high waters from recent rains have closed down several boat ramps.
“As far as COVID-19, this is kind of new territory for everyone,” Assistant Lake Manager Tommy Holder said. “Having community and campsite closures to the pandemic is quite unusual, but we are following the guidance we’ve been given from the CDC and our agency on handling the situation.”
In an update on the lake status, Holder said 11 different camp grounds have had reservations canceled through at least May 15. However, some campgrounds have campers currently on site and the USACE is allowing these reservations to be completed.
““We have existing reservations for the campgrounds and those existing reservations will be allowed to run their course to allow the campers to stay in place until when the reservation expires,” he said.
Other amenities, including the Cross Timbers hiking trails remain open despite the closure of campgrounds.
Holder said this the first time he has seen the campgrounds close due to a pandemic. In many cases, these sites will close due to weather concerns, or damage that may have occurred due to weather.
In addition to the campgrounds, many of the corps managed boat ramps have been closed due to high waters. Currently, only the East Burns Run and Juniper West boat ramps remain open.
As of 6 a.m. the water levels on Lake Texoma stood at just over 622 feet, about 7 feet above seasonal average. To mitigate this, the corps opened one of the flood control gates, and the Denison Dam is generating power.
““Hopefully we will be increasing that and leveling off the high water,” he said.
Traffic at the lake has been busy, despite the growing concern over the virus and recent storms. Good weather may entice some people to come out and enjoy the lake, he said.
“It has been fairly busy with boat activity,” he said. “You know, the cloudy weather and rain has kept those numbers low. A little bit of sunshine would go a long way there toward getting people back outdoors.”
Meanwhile, Eisenhower State Park has suspended all day visitors and is only allowing pre-paid campers into the park.
“The office headquarters, park store, and day use areas. including the OHV and hiking trails, boat ramps, and other related facilities, are closed,” the park said on its website. “We are not accepting any walk in visitors, day-use reservations, or walk-in campsite reservations until further notice.”
Like the corps-managed trails, the park’s boat ramp and fishing pier are closed due to high water.
Park Manager Amanda Parsons said it is difficult to tell how much the fears of the Coronavirus are effecting the park’s attendance. While it is certainly having an impact, the swim beach and other popular amenities were already scheduled to be closed due to maintenance issues and repairs, she said.
However, she has seen many canceled reservations in recent days.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.