Caples Lake boat launch closure explained

By November 12, 2010

EDITOR:  I am responding to concerns expressed in a Nov. 10 letter to the editor about the Nov. 1 closure of EID’s Caples Lake boat launch. The writer questioned the reasons for the closure, noting that fish are still biting, ice has yet to form on the lake’s surface, and access to the lake — at the time the letter was written — was still open.

Since then, Mormon Emigrant Trail, one of the major roads to Caples Lake, has been closed. A ski resort near the lake has reported 26 inches of snow. It appears winter is in full swing in the high Sierra.

These conditions exemplify the dilemma that faces EID very year. It’s never quite certain when the weather will dictate closure of the district’s recreational facilities at Silver and Caples lakes. But weather is not the only consideration, and the Caples Lake boat launch is a case in point.

As many readers may know, the district was required to construct and maintain a new boat launch at Caples Lake under EID’s federal license to operate the El Dorado water supply and hydroelectric power project. A $1.6 million grant from the state’s Boating and Waterways Commission and $280,000 worth of work from the U.S. Forest Service covered approximately two-thirds of the project’s total cost.

But a lawsuit voiced objections about potential noise and vandalism. In the settlement, EID agreed to operate the launch facility from 6 a.m. through 8 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day and 7 a.m. through 7 p.m. during the remainder of the open season. In addition, we agreed to locate the gate to the facility in an area that would prevent unauthorized parking outside the gate and place “No Parking” signs in that area.

Given both weather and legal factors, the district has adopted the practice of normally closing Silver and Caples lakes’ boat launches and other recreational facilities from Nov. 1 to May 1. These timelines are similar to Forest Service closures and are reasonable given the uncertainties of weather and access in 7500-foot and higher elevations. While closures may change a bit — a few days on one side or the other of the May 1 and Nov. 1 dates — we choose to err on the side of visitor safety.

If readers have additional questions, I encourage them to contact me.


Communications and Community Relations Director

El Dorado Irrigation District

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