Higher water levels drawing people to Cheney Lake for holiday weekend

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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CHENEY STATE PARK, Kan. -- It didn't take long for Dick Guthridge's plans to come together for the Fourth of July.

"Our grandsons called up last night and said, 'We'd like to go seadooing.' And we said, 'O.K., we are going to go at 9:30 tomorrow morning,'" Guthridge said.

That's just when the Wichita family got to Cheney Lake Friday. They staked out the best seat on the beach.

"We just happened to luck out today, nobody already had this spot," Guthridge said. "It's right by the boat ramp and you have your own private little cove. It's just perfect."

The family was drawn back to Cheney Lake, in part, because of the higher water levels. Park leaders say the lake is about six inches above conservation pool.

The higher water levels have also helped to draw back Hutchinson's Manuel Pina and his bright yellow 1974 Hondo boat. Pina has been coming to Cheney Lake since 1965 and prefers to stay at the South Loop Campground.

"(The lake) was in pretty bad shape. A lot of people weren't coming out," Pina said. "But (the water) is back up and I'm thankful for that."

Also thankful are park leaders who say 2012 and 2013 were rough at Cheney Lake.

"We were at a record low last year going into the holiday weekends," said Ryan Stucky, Regional Supervisor for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. "(This year) we are about 60 percent above where we were last year as far as visitation and revenue. Everybody is having a good time. Everybody has their lake back."

He says while the lake was down these past couple years, park leaders were able to make major improvements and perform important maintenance work. This year, visitors are getting to enjoy those efforts.

"There was some good that came out of some of that bad from 2012 and 2013," Stucky said.

He says the lake also is clear of any blue-green algae problems. And, he says, campgrounds are in good shape.

Stucky says campground reservations are a little bit lower than expected with some utility and many primitive spaces still available.

But he says, overall, he can't complain about how things are looking this year.

"The park is right where it needs to be," Stucky said.

Guthridge says Cheney is right where he needs to be to enjoy this holiday weekend.

"We are going to sit back in our lazy chairs and just enjoy everything that is around us right now," Guthridge said.


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