visitidaho.org

There are new concerns growing over the future access of Lake Walcott in Minidoka County and County Commissioners are becoming concerned as a management plan is being developed for the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge.  The Times News reports today that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is developing a 15-year plan to manage the nearly 21,000-acre refuge that encompasses Lake Walcott State Park.  Tracy Casselman with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says his agency has identified six priority uses of the refuge that include hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, environmental education and interpretation. Those will receive consideration over all other public uses.  But, he says, other types of boating not associated with fishing could come under “closer scrutiny.”  Minidoka County Commissioners  are concerned about the economic impact to the county if boating is restricted on the reservoir. Idaho Parks and Recreation South Region Manager Garth Taylor told the Times News  his agency is interested in maintaining the boating opportunities at the park. Hap Boyer, natural resource manager for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Upper Snake Field Officesays portions of the reservoir will be closed as the new dam is built. The $21 million replacement of the spillway and head gates is slated to be completed in March 2015.