With less water in Lopez Lake than ever before, rangers say the boat launch ramp could close sometime this summer or later unless unexpected rain replenishes the falling lake level.
A park ranger said Friday that she could not recall a time in recent years when the ramp has ever been closed.
Concerns arose after Memorial Day weekend that it might be the last holiday the boat ramp could remain open, because the lake levels are steadily dropping to the point that it makes the ramp impossible for larger boats to use. Some warned the ramp could be closed by the Fourth of July.
Park ranger Kirsten Came said rangers don’t have a specific date in mind yet to close the ramp, and are instead playing it by ear.
“It’s a game of going out there and checking it every week,” she said. “So far there are no plans to close it this weekend.”
Came said she was unsure if the possible ramp closure would be a first in the lake’s almost 50-year history, though she did note that the lake’s water level “has never been this low before.”
The lake was 28.8 percent full Friday, compared with about 37 percent full on the same date a year ago.
Rangers are actively monitoring the lake and will close the ramp once the levels make it impossible to launch boats off the large concrete path, Came said. The levels are already too low to launch some larger boats, though smaller draft boats and pontoons, which float on top of the water, can still use it.
Water around the ramp is currently about three feet deep.
The lake, which serves as a source of water for parts of the South County, has been slowly emptying because the water is being used faster than scant rain in the area can replenish it.
According to Came, rangers are seeing fewer boaters than normal this season because of the low water level. On average, she said they see only a handful during the week, mostly for fishing, but on weekends will have about 15 boats out per day.
Despite the decrease in visitors, Came said the rangers will only close the ramp once it is definitely unusable.
“We’re going to keep it open as long as we can,” she said.
Even if the ramp closes, visitors will still be able to kayak, canoe or paddleboard on the lake.