STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
When the Lower Colorado River Authority opened floodgates at Buchanan Dam, staff at Inks Lake State Park had to scramble to move park visitors and equipment away from the shore.
Then, when gates 5-8 opened, the staff moved everything again.
“Fortunately, we have a really strong team, and we work really well together under very extreme pressure,” said Lindsay Pannell, park Interpreter. “Which we found out in the (July) fire.”
Inks Lake rose 7.5-ft. above its normal level during the peak of the flood.
After the water receded, the park’s staff and volunteers worked to remove large debris, clean half the park’s campsites, and make repairs in order to reopen the park. Four cabins were underwater, as well.
At 8 a.m. Friday, Nov. 2, all of Inks Lake State Park will be open to the public.
“Shout out to our volunteers. We appreciate them coming out and lending a hand when we know folks are suffering,” said Inks Lake Park Superintendent Cory Evans. “We really rely on our staffers and volunteers.”
Before the flood, southern trails near primitive camping spots remained closed after the July wildfire. The previously burned areas, as well as the lakeside area of the park, will all finally open again.
“Once the water receded, we had to wait for the ground to dry enough so we weren’t damaging (the ground) and contributing to erosion,” Pannell said.
Inks Lake State Park continues to ask park visitors to stay on trail paths and not wander off during this delicate time to avoid causing permanent damage to plant life.
“(Plant life) is in a delicate state that could cause permanent damage if we kill off that bit of greenery,” Pannell said. “Especially in the burned areas.”
Inks Lake — as well as lakes LBJ, Marble Falls, and Travis — will remained closed until LCRA makes a determination Nov. 2 about reopening them to recreational use.
People can fish from the banks or piers at the park in the meantime.
Pannell and Evans said property damage was minimal from the flood. After large debris was removed, other cleanup work included fixing electrical systems, repainting and drying out cabins, and replacing mattresses.
Smaller, natural debris, she said, will remain in place.
“That helps with the erosion,” Pannell said. “It also puts nutrients back into the soil. That’s one of the benefits of floods.”
Once LCRA decides to open Inks Lake to recreational use, the park’s boat ramp will remain open, despite a plan before the flood to close it for upgrades.
“As soon as LCRA give the go-ahead to open the lake for recreational use, the ramp will open for a short period of time,” Evans said. “The (ramp) project is moving forward, so we anticipate at some point in November we’ll close it down through the winter and spring.”
The park’s Facebook page will be the first to notify visitors when the ramp will close.
Park programs also resume this weekend, Evans said.
“With the nice weather we should be fully booked on our campsites and for people to experience our trails,” Evans said.