Boat anglers will have access to Hyatt Lake for the opening of trout-fishing season after all despite federal budget cuts that threatened to close the lake's only two public boat ramps.
Help from volunteer fishing groups, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Jackson County will enable the federal Bureau of Land Management to offer access to the two ramps and parking area at its Hyatt Lake Recreation Complex at the southern end of the lake in the Greensprings east of Ashland.
"With folks volunteering to step up, we feel we can make it work," BLM spokesman Jim Whittington said this morning. "We'll ask folks to pack out their own trash and take care of the place."
Federal budget cuts and a hiring freeze left the BLM's Medford District with fewer than one-third of its normal crop of summer seasonal workers, leaving the district unable to staff and take care of the complex until mid-May.
The BLM will begin plowing snow at the ramp and parking area today, but the campground will remain closed and unplowed until BLM staff can operate the complex, probably around May 15, Whittington says.
Ramp access is scheduled to open April 25, two days before the start of the lake's fishing season. That will give crews a little wiggle-room to ensure access to the lake when the fishing season begins, Whittington said.
The BLM's two ramps at the lake's south end are the only public launch sites on the lake since the Bureau of Reclamation blocked access to the ramp at Campers Cove last year.
The BLM ramps and adjacent parking lots were rebuilt last summer at a cost of $426,000, about half from the BLM and the remaining from Oregon State Marine Board grants.
Hyatt Lake is a popular trout-fishing destination during the early part of the season before the lake warms, and again in the fall before the Oct. 31 close of the angling year there. The lake is stocked annually with rainbow trout to support the angling season.
BLM officials earlier opted against opening just the boat ramps without staffing there over concerns about illegal camping, garbage and bathroom vandalism, Whittington said. Also, anglers are not the only BLM constituents at the site, and the BLM did not want to appear to favor boat anglers over campers, horseback riders and others who use the complex, he said.
— Mark Freeman