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Some Lucky Peak boat ramps won't open this summer due to low water

Below-average snowpack and other issues will make Lucky Peak and other Idaho reservoirs difficult to fill, the Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday.

BOISE, Idaho — Low water will definitely affect recreation on Lucky Peak Reservoir this year, the Army Corps of Engineers confirmed Wednesday.

Boat ramps at Robie Creek Park, Macks Creek Park, and half of Barclay Bay will be closed. Beach and paddlecraft areas at Robie Creek Park and Barclay Bay will be far from water.

Ramps at Turner Gulch and  Spring Shores Marina will remain open; on-the-water fueling and marine sanitation service at Spring Shores also will remain available.

Dock strings provided by Ada County Parks and Waterways will not be accessible.

The Corps of Engineers said earlier this spring that low water would likely cut the recreation season short. Boise River flows from Lucky Peak Reservoir were kept at a minimum in early April in an effort to conserve water for farm irrigation.

Credit: Noe Gonzalez/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Macks Creek Campground along Lucky Peak Reservoir near Boise, Idaho.

As of Wednesday, April 27, the Corps of Engineers said Lucky Peak was discharging 2,800 cubic feet per second to support irrigation releases. Seasonal snowpack in the Boise River basin as of April 27 was at 85 percent of median, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Precipitation totals for the water year -- Oct. 1 through April 26 -- were 72 percent of normal, according to the Northwest River Forecast Center.

Water supply from 2021 also was lower than normal, making 2022 the second straight low-water year. Because of low water in 2021, carryover in the reservoir system has been lower than average. The dry year and "numerous constraints on the system will make Lucky Peak difficult to fill," the Corps of Engineers said in a news release.

As of April 27, Lucky Peak Reservoir was 60 percent full, according to data from the Bureau of Reclamation. The two other reservoirs in the Boise River system, Arrowrock and Anderson Ranch, are at 87 percent and 45 percent, respectively. Both reservoirs are above Lucky Peak, with Anderson Ranch feeding Arrowrock, and Arrowrock feeding Lucky Peak. The system as a whole is at 61 percent of capacity.

Credit: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Boise and Payette basin reservoir levels on April 27, 2022. Screen capture from https://www.usbr.gov/pn/hydromet/boipaytea.html

To maximize the use of water in the system to meet irrigation, environmental and recreation missions, the Corps of Engineers said, Lucky Peak will target "lake full" conditions of 20 feet below normal. Natural runoff continues to send water into the Boise River system, and Lucky Peak will gradually fill through the month of May. The Corps anticipates the reservoir will be held constant at "lake full" conditions through the month of June, then begin to fall in July as more water is delivered to serve irrigation demands.

Lower lake levels can pose new hazards for boaters, the Corps of Engineers advised. The hazards include unfamiliar shoals and shallow rocky outcroppings.

Day-use and camping activities at Lucky Peak will be permitted this year, but cooking fires and campfires must be contained in agency-provided grills. Also, camping is being limited to designated sites only. Dispersed camping and fires along exposed shoreline areas are prohibited at Corps of Engineers parks.

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