PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department has an ambitious improvement project under way at a popular fishing area along the Missouri River.
The main boat ramp at Bush’s Landing in Sully County will be extended because Lake Oahe has a lower water level this year and silt has been naturally building up in the bay.
The area is closed to visitors while work progresses. The state’s contract with Fort Pierre-based construction company Morris Inc. called for substantial completion not later than Friday, May 28.
That won’t happen, according to Adam Kulesa. He is GFP’s administrator for planning and development.
“The target date will not be met,” Kulesa said. “The contract with Morris was for $535,100 and (the company) will be assessed liquidated damages for each calendar day of delay until the work is substantially complete. The contractor will be completing the work as quickly as possible.”
The contract calls for Morris and its surety provider to pay $675 per day.
The time period for completing the work was tight. The company’s secretary, Mark Morris, signed the contract May 11. State Parks and Recreation Division director Scott Simpson and state Game, Fish and Parks Secretary Kevin Robling signed it May 13.
The plan calls for laying dirt and rock to extend the structure already there and installing more than 60 pre-cast planks as additional ramp surface for boat trailers and trucks to reach the water.
The concrete planks were being hauled in a variety of spots, including Chantier Creek on the west side of Lake Oahe in Stanley County, as well as from Shadehill Reservoir on the Grand River in Perkins County, and from Potts Dam at the upper end of Okobojo Creek in Potter County.
There also will be 600 feet of yellow-colored silt curtain around the renovated ramp to reduce damage from the water’s natural wave action.
Getting to and from Bush’s Landing is an adventure too.
The Sully County road to Sunset Lodge is a mix of gravel and pavement. From there, motorists wanting to get down to the water face a series of steep inclines, as the road — marked as minimum maintenance — narrows in some spots and turns to gravel and dirt. The final segment leading into the lakeside area is hard-surfaced, with an asphalt-gravel parking area. The new extension to the rebuilt ramp will be a mix of gravel and dirt.
Last year, in mid-May, there was a combined effort to get the county road open. Kulesa said there are talks about what to do next for repairs or maintenance of the county road. He said an estimate for road improvements on the segment east of Sunset Lodge was provided to GFP on May 13.
“GFP is waiting for the county to provide more details on their cost-share request and timeline before an agreement can be made outlining cost-share responsibilities and timeline of project completion,” Kulesa said. As for the minimum-maintenance stretch, between the lodge and the water, he said, “The department and Sully County continue to cooperate on localized repairs to keep the road passable under challenging conditions.”
Kulesa said GFP owns the primary ramp and parking and operates the low-water ramp under a permit with the corps. There already were two boat-ramp locations at Bush’s Landing. Kulesa said the first was installed by the corps, when the federal government still owned most of the shoreline, and GFP put in the second ramp in the early 2000s to keep water access available.
The water-surface elevation at Oahe Dam on Thursday, May 27, was 1605.98 feet above sea level.
“This (current) project is necessary to provide boating access to the primary ramp on the central portion of the Missouri River. (The) ongoing siltation on the current high-water boat ramp site has drastically reduced its ability to provide access at water elevations below 1610,” Kulesa said. “This project will allow for continuous access from high water conditions down to an elevation 30 feet lower than current elevations.”
People will need to walk farther between the extended ramp area and the parking lot.
“It will be about a distance of 700 feet to the lower part of the parking lot and about 1,100 feet to the upper portion of the lot. It is currently about 250 feet distance from the high-water ramp to the lower part of the parking lot and 650 feet distance from the high-water ramp to the upper part of the lot,” Kulesa said.
“Additional temporary parking could be achieved as the water continues to drop. At the current elevation of approximately 1606, parking will be very limited near the low-water ramp. It would take a large financial commitment to provide substantial parking at the low-water ramp location. This location becomes submerged quickly in periods of high water on Lake Oahe,” he said.