TYGART LAKE—After months and months of hard work, a group of individuals seeking to extend the boating season at Tygart Lake have reached a milestone.
According to William Weisel, of Cove Run, LLC, one of the driving forces behind the initiative, the United State Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in Pittsburgh has agreed to a plan of flexibility that will help keep the water levels of the lake higher longer into the fall.
“I had been in contact with Lenna Hawkins from the USACE about our endeavor to extend the boating season, something that we believe will help bring tourists to the area, helping to grow the local economy,” he said.
The extension of the boating season at the lake has been a hot topic among civic organizations that serve the county.
In fact, the Visit Mountaineer Country Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB), which encompasses Taylor County, was thrilled to learn that the state park and lake were part of the county, noting that they are huge tourism draws.
“When the CVB came to town to discuss way to increase tourism dollars, Tygart Lake was one of three initiatives discussed,” said Weisel. “Maintaining boating and summer pool elevations of 1,088-1,093 feet into early October was felt to be one of the best routes to increase visitor days and dollars for Taylor County.”
The idea of a longer boating season has been widely accepted by not only residents, but has garnered bipartisan political support locally, statewide and on a national level.
Weisel noted that there would have to be certain factors in play that would allow for the water to be maintained at the minimal 1,088 feet to keep boaters in the water of the lake, including the Tygart Lake Marina’s Princess cruise boat, because the water from the lake is used in navigation efforts of the Monongahela River.
An average amount of rainfall throughout August and September would have to occur in order to keep the water levels up in the lake, and should there be an increase in precipitation in September, the water levels would be allowed to rise even further to sustain a longer season.
“If rainfall is average or above during that time, our anticipation would be that the lake levels would not be reduced the week after Labor Day, as has been customary in the past,” Weisel said. “Instead, the summer pools would be maintained, if possible, through the first week of October.”
He disclosed that he had reached out to the USACE to ask for guidance with the potential for an operational flexibility to help ensure that the water levels of the lake stay at summer pool into the early fall.
At the end of March, the efforts of the team, comprised of Weisel, Tygart Lake State Park Foundation Representatives, Delegate Amy Summers and the Visit Mountaineer Country CVB, along with others with interest in the project, received a bit of good news.
“We have committed to employing operational flexibility this year at Tygart Lake,” said Hawkins, Deputy District Engineer of the Pittsburgh District USACE. “We understand the importance of extended recreation and would like to support you as much as possible.”
While agreeing to help with their initiative, Hawkins revealed that she would need to obtain information from the team, including input from land and property owners around the lake.
“In order to meet the end of season lake levels, we may need to raise the lake levels at times,” she reported. “It is important for us to know how we will impact facilities at high lake levels as well as low.”
She was seeking to learn the elevations, both high and low, that would affect facilities, including docks.
Weisel said that any lakefront dock or property owners who wish to comment on the proposed policy or those that have concerns that their lakefront property could not tolerate a rise in lake levels of 10-15 feet in August, should contact him by email at [email protected], or by phone at 724-600-4688.
“We would like to have any feedback by the end of June, so that comments can be forwarded to the Pittsburgh USACE in a timely fashion,” he imparted.