Drought cutting boating season short

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North Dakota has been affected by the drought in many ways — including boaters now being hit by the dry conditions.

In the first eight months, the Garrison Dam has been experiencing a runoff below normal.

The U.S. Army Corps of engineers wants anyone with boats, watercraft or docks to remove their boat from the Missouri River as they decrease releases.

“Dropping quite a bit in the reservoir. Going into this fall we are cutting our releases from 21,000 CFS, which is currently what we’re discharging today. Down to 13,500 by mid-September,” said David Beck, the Chief of Tech Support for the Garrison Project.

North Dakota Game and Fish says as water levels begin to decrease accessing boat ramps will become more complicated.

“Most of the boat ramps when they’re initially constructed have adequate water on them to launch boats safely when water levels are full or near full. But with again these lower water levels we’re getting down towards the bottom end of the ramp. Some of them are completely exposed,” explained Bob Frohlich, the Fisheries Development Supervisor for Game and Fish.

Frohlich says if boaters are able to get in the water there’s other dangers they may come across that they typically wouldn’t.

“There’s rocks, there’s tree stumps, there’s sunken islands, rock piles. Different things that maybe they didn’t have to deal with in the past,” explained Frohlich.

The reduced releases will be a transitional phase and not all at once, giving people time to get their boats or watercraft out of the Missouri River.

Game and Fish says they have seen low water levels across the state including at Lake Sakakawea and Devils Lake.

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