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Environment

Ongoing drought raises concerns over Lake Oahe water levels

Lake Oahe.jpg
Public Domain
Several boats line the waters of Lake Oahe, one of the largest reservoirs on the Missouri River.

State officials say water levels will continue to drop at Lake Oahe from a combination of drought conditions and low Rocky Mountain snowpack.

As a result, boaters will see limited access to the popular waterway.

“We will be working hard to keep plenty of ramps open along Lake Oahe, but it probably won’t be feasible to keep every ramp open," says South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) Director Scott Simpson.

Lower water levels also require extra caution for boaters from submerged hazards just under the surface.

Access and hazards are not the only concerns.

Another challenge with low water levels is to keep drivers from cruising the long stretches of shoreline. Such activity is illegal.

“It seems so harmless, but it isn’t. Driving on those shorelines degrades those shorelines and wildlife habitat, can disturb threatened and endangered species, and disturb or destroy archeological resources,” says GFP Law Enforcement Chief, Sam Schelhaas.

GFP had boat ramps built when water levels were low from 2002 to 2006. Though, their useability has not yet been fully assessed.

To find boat ramp status, see below