PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) officials are working hard this spring season to track Lake Oahe water levels and are planning for additional access work on the Missouri River reservoir.
“We know that with persisting drought conditions and low Rocky Mountain snowpack that water levels will continue to drop,” said GFP Parks Director Scott Simpson. “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.”
Fortunately, there are several low-water facilities that GFP constructed during that last low-water cycle in 2002-2006 that may be brought back into service. Many of these facilities are still under water right now and a complete assessment will not be possible until they come out of the water. For example, the Chantier Creek boat ramp will remain closed until water levels begin to rise again.
Lower water levels also require extra caution due to submerged hazards such as trees and rocks that are just under the surface. Boaters are urged to use extreme caution when out on the water and plan ahead accordingly. Underwater hazards are not marked.
Low water levels on Oahe also brings access issues of another kind and has GFP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) reminding anglers and other recreationalists that off road vehicle, and ATV use along shores and off designated trails is not permitted.
“I know it is tempting to see those long stretches of shoreline and go off road exploring,” said GFP Law Enforcement Chief, Sam Schelhaas. “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. Driving off roads and along the shore is not permitted, so if you want to go explore, we are asking you to do it on foot.”
GFP officials will continue to work alongside the USACE to monitor water levels on the Missouri River closely and provide as much access as possible for anglers and boaters to enjoy the reservoir.
Anglers and boaters can visit, the Public Fishing Access Map to find boat ramp status.