Rains and flooding bog down local state parks and Corps campgrounds

Earlier this week, Corps staff closed the main road just south of the Wolf Creek Park entrance, at Pomona Lake, and asked visitors to not drive around the barricade. USACE photo.

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has reported that recent frequent heavy rains are impacting some state parks in eastern Kansas. High water levels at area Corps reservoirs have flooded campgrounds, overtopped roads, closed boat ramps and beaches and dampened visitors’ enthusiasm for any outdoor activities.

In Osage County, campgrounds have been impacted at Pomona Lake and Melvern Lake due to high levels of retained water at those lakes. (See related story: Corps plans public meeting on high water conditions at Pomona and Melvern lakes) Recent rains have also affected the trail conditions on the Flint Hills Nature Trail.

Eisenhower State Park at Melvern Lake remains open as of May 22, 2019. The lake is 16.01 feet above conservation level, and outflow is 20 cubic feet per second minimum. The lake is projected to be 18.8 feet above conservation level by May 30. Park staff is shutting down all the electrical connections in Blackjack and Abilene campgrounds. Almost all primitive sites are underwater, and the beach and beach restroom are closed.

Corps of Engineers campgrounds closed at Melvern Lake include:

  • Arrow Rock: Sites 8-10, 12-15, 19 and 35-45 are closed through June 30, 2019; sites 6 and 7 are closed through June 20.
  • Coeur d’Alene: Sites 9-32 are closed through June 30.
  • Turkey Point: Sites 1-8 and 23 are closed through May 30; sites 9-22 are closed through June 30; site 30 is closed through May 28 (closure extension to come); Group Camp closed through June 30. More closures are expected in the Turkey Point Campground to come in the following days. Arrow Rock and Coeur d’Alene closure extensions possible. Should these sites come out from under water and be cleaned up before their closure end date, they will be opened up for reservations.
  • Outlet Park remains unaffected by this flood event.
  • All boat ramps have stopped charging fees and the courtesy docks have been pulled.

At Pomona Lake, Pomona State Park is open. The lake is 23.26 ft above conservation level, and outflow is 15 cfs minimum. The lake is about 9 feet from going over the spillway. The lake is projected to 26 feet above conservation level by May 31. The marina started moving all houseboats off the water as of Wednesday, and also shut down all electrical service to the marina area.

Big Bear Campground is closed. The Kansa shower building is closed. Staff is closing six sites on the marina side of Kansa Campground and all Kansa primitive sites. The park road to east side of the park is closed; the back gate is open on the county road.

Corps campgrounds closed at Pomona Lake include:

  • Wolf Creek Park – All sites remain closed and will be through the weekend. All reservations for Memorial weekend have been cancelled and fully refunded.
  • Michigan Valley Park – Loops A, B, C, D, E, F and G are closed, and will remain closed through the weekend.
  • Adams Grove and Cedar Park remain closed. Coon Creek crossing is still closed and will likely be through the weekend. All Corps boat ramps remain closed.

The Flint Hills Trail remains open with the surface firm in most locations. However, due to the varied development and surface construction, some locations are in better shape than others, and there are some known points that are difficult to pass through or impassable. There are several locations between Ottawa and Osawatomie that have water at the edge of the trail and over the trail, making through travel between those points impossible. Also, several trees are reported down on the trail in that section. There is a section of the trail by Quenemo that has trail surface damage from flooding and water backing up onto the trail, but it is passable by walking a bike over the rough surface about 100 yards. The trail between Vassar and Osage City is muddy and travel is discouraged in this area. There may be other isolated wet spots, and with more wind or rain conditions can change. Visitors should always be aware to changing trail conditions as some locations may receive more rainfall than others.

Typically, Memorial Day marks the beginning of the busy season for Kansas state parks and Corps campgrounds.

“State park staffers are doing their best to accommodate visitors’ needs,” said Brad Loveless, KDWPT Secretary. “At affected parks, staff are happy to work with visitors to change their reservations to a dry campsite if available, arrange for another date in the future, provide a gift card good for a future stay, or issue a refund. We remind visitors, for their own safety, to avoid flood waters and never move or drive around barricades”

For information about conditions at individual state parks, see ksoutdoors.com/State-Parks/State-Park-Alerts.

Contact us: Osage County News | P.O. Box 62, Lyndon, KS 66451 | [email protected] | 785-828-4994 | Powered by Osage County, Kansas