Sunday, February 26, 2012

Back to Planning

Some of the lakes in the eastern part of the state are reaching conservation pool levels, which is their way of saying the water is back up to normal levels. The ones in the western and southwestern portions are still suffering for water. For example, one of the largest lakes in the southwest is Altus Lake, which is down 82%. Optima Lake in the northwest was built in 1978, and has never reached normal pool level. It has just a little puddle at the base of the dam, and that’s it. Between the lack of rain and rapid evaporation in the normally arid air, there is just no water.

At any rate, I’ve gone looking for paddling opportunities, and have found a great tool for that search. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board publishes a book titled “Lakes of Oklahoma.” It has charts for 144 lakes in the state. They are printed on sturdy, gloss-finished paper and in a spiral-bound book. Each chart includes valuable information on the lake, from the managing authority, acreage, capacity, shoreline length, date of construction, and the availability of ramps, picnic areas, campgrounds, as well as maps showing routes into the various features. It is free if picked up at the OWRB office, or $10 by check for shipping if ordered by phone.

Of course water is not the only problem here. I need to watch for the wind to die down. The last couple days, the wind has been blowing 40-50 mph. Last Tuesday it was gusting 80-90 mph and tore a couple’s home apart, killing the woman inside. But, I’m anxious to get the paddle wet again, and this book of maps should be a help.

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