Low Water Levels Affecting Tourism At Buckhorn Lake

By: Julie Maloney Email
By: Julie Maloney Email

Tourism officials say Buckhorn Lake has dropped far below its summer level. As a result, less people are hunting, fishing and boating. Officials want to add water to the lake, but that could put one community at risk of flooding.

Buckhorn Lake is twenty five feet below its summer level. Right now, no one can fish or boat, so tourism officials are working to raise the water level by ten feet during the winter months.

"It would open up hunting, fishing. Our winters are a lot milder these days. New Years Eve you could sit out on your boat," said Fitz Steele with Perry County Tourism.

Steele says this would increase tourism, but there's one problem. If the water level is raised, dozens of families face being trapped in their homes.

"With ten more feet of water, that would mean 3 or 4 more days we would be blocked in," said Delano Huff.

In 2004, Highway 257 in the Confluence area of Leslie County was blocked off after a flood and Huff says the only way out was by boat.

"Every time it starts to rain, you start worrying are we going to get blocked in," Huff said.

Huff says if the lake level is raised, there's a higher chance that the highway will flood. The Army Corps of Engineers agrees. In the winter of 2005, they raised the lake by 10 feet. At the same time, the Army Corps of Engineers say they spent more money cleaning up Highway 257.

"I would like to have the water level raised 10 feet, but before that, fix the low spots for people in Leslie County on Highway 257," Steele said.

Huff agrees and says if the highway is fixed, families here won't have to worry about flooding and at the same time, the area could benefit financially from tourism.

The Hazard-Perry County Tourism Board voted last year to support any effort to increase the water level at Buckhorn Lake. However, the Army Corps of Engineers says it would take an act of congress to get this passed.

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