Outdoors

Dworshak Reservoir nearly full; camping at its best


Dworshak Reservoir backs up on the the North Fork of the Clearwater River behind Dworshak Dam near Orofino. The 55-mile-long reservoir has been overpopulated with small kokanee for two years. Fish managers are considering adding nutrients to the water to boost the food chain and help kokanee grow bigger. Meanwhile, the abudance of small kokanee seems to be agreeing with bass — and bass anglers.
 (Associated Press photos / The Spokesman-Review)
Dworshak Reservoir backs up on the the North Fork of the Clearwater River behind Dworshak Dam near Orofino. The 55-mile-long reservoir has been overpopulated with small kokanee for two years. Fish managers are considering adding nutrients to the water to boost the food chain and help kokanee grow bigger. Meanwhile, the abudance of small kokanee seems to be agreeing with bass — and bass anglers. (Associated Press photos / The Spokesman-Review)

BOATING — Dworshak Reservoir is just two feet shy of full pool, which puts boaters into the period of the best access to the campsites along the reservoir up the North Fork of the Clearwater River.

Remember, this is a banner year to fish for Dworshak's kokanee as well as smallmouth bass.

The water should reach full pool at 1,600 feet elevation next week, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Around July 8, the reservoir will gradually be drawn down to provide cool water for downstream salmon. That annual drawdown leaves many of the campsites vacant because of the long uphill walk from the water line.

Read on for details from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Dworshak Dam and the reservoir recreation sites.

Dworshak Reservoir will likely reach full pool elevation next week, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water managers announced today. 
 
A below-normal snowpack throughout the Clearwater sub-Basin challenged water managers to balance the need to maintain space in the reservoir for any unexpected water inflows with the desire to have the reservoir close to full pool (1,600 feet in elevation) in time for the July 4 holiday weekend, said Steve Hall, reservoir manager for the Corps’ Walla Walla District. 
 
Hall and other Corps water experts conducted an observation flight on Friday to visually confirm how much snow-covered area remained in the basin, and came back with good news for Dworshak holiday visitors: only about 5 percent of the area was still covered by snow, allowing water managers to continue safely filling the reservoir.“The reservoir is about two feet shy of full, and conditions are great right now for outdoor water recreation,” said Hall.
 
Hall said Corps water managers plan to maintain full pool at Dworshak Reservoir through July 8, subject to downstream needs to maintain healthy river temperatures for outmigrating ESA-listed fish species. Tuesday morning, June 4, water temperatures at Lower Granite Lock and Dam on the Snake River were at about 50 degrees – approximately 18 degrees cooler than the maximum temperature considered healthy for fish (68 degrees).
 
Dworshak Dam and Reservoir offers a variety of outdoor summer fun opportunities during the July 4 holiday – boating, camping water sports, swimming, fishing, hiking and more. Dworshak Dam’s Visitor Center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Tours are offered daily at 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. All tours begin at the Visitor Center.
 
All campgrounds, mini-camps and boat ramps are open for use, said Paul Pence, Dworshak natural resources manager. 
 
Dent Acres campground, group camp, and picnic shelter is reservable for the summer recreation season. To make reservations, call 1-877-444-6777, or go online. Reservations are not required, but are recommended if you want to be guaranteed a particular spot during your camping trip, said Pence.
 
In addition, the reserving of mini-camp sites along the Dworshak Reservoir shoreline is prohibited. Early placement of camping equipment at mini-camp sites in an attempt to save a spot for the weekend can result in the removal of the camping equipment or a citation if personal gear is left unattended for an extended period.
 
The Corps invites visitors to come use the recreation facilities at Dworshak Dam and Reservoir, but it's important to enjoy the reservoir safely by taking the following precautions:
  • Changing weather conditions can create unsafe situations on open water.  Know the weather and have a float plan.
  • Keep life jackets on children while on or around the water. Don’t let small children out of your sight.
  • Check the serviceability of your boat.
  • Ensure proper fitting, accessible and serviceable life vests are available for each occupant on your boat. Better yet, wear them.
  • Before proceeding at higher speeds, familiarize yourself with the area you will be boating as there may be floating woody debris or rocks, stumps and shallow areas not visible from the surface.
  • When boating on the reservoir, please use caution because lake levels can change quickly – anchor your boat in water deep enough to avoid beaching and leave enough slack in your anchorline to avoid sinking should lake levels fluctuate up or down.
  • Campfires should be made using established fire rings only.
For more information regarding water levels, facilities access or recreation, call the Dworshak Dam Visitor Center at 208-476-1255.



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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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