Drought Causing Low Lake Levels

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MEDFORD, Ore. — Jackson County Parks have taken a big financial hit this summer, as area lakes have been much lower than normal.

Currently, Emigrant Lake is 30 percent full, and Howard Prairie Lake is 37 percent full. The Jackson County Parks Department said it has caused several boat ramps to be closed much earlier in the year than normal. Boat ramps have been unable to open at all this season at Howard Prairie Lake.

Boat rentals are down, and there have been fewer campers than normal for this time of year.

The Parks Department said the dry winter and spring forced it to make cutbacks to its staff this year to prepare for the dry summer.

“We didn’t staff up as much as we normally would staff up, with temporary help into the summer,” said Jackson County Parks Director Steve Lambert. “And we currently left a couple full-time positions open as well, anticipating, when we put our budget together in the spring, that this would be a challenging year.”

Only Willow Lake has been able to withstand the drought conditions; it is currently listed at 79 percent full.