Boating Season Off To Rough Start On Buckeye Lake

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It is not the typical start to the boating season at Buckeye Lake that everyone is used to. 

The state has lowered the water levels in the lake as a precaution fearing the dam could break. 

It means they'll be no skiing or tubing this year because of safety concerns. 

And for many boaters this weekend, it was a struggle getting their boats in the water.    

Wayne Collins has been coming to Buckeye Lake for the last 60 years.

"It is an excellent lake to fish and boat on, but right now this is the worst I've ever seen it in my life,” he said.

Collins traveled from Whitehall for his first fishing trip of the season, but getting the boat in Buckeye Lake was a challenge.

"It is too shallow,” said Collins.  “It is only a foot deep right here so basically we used a trolling motor to get it out into deeper water."

The state is keeping Buckeye Lake half-full fearing the 100 year-old dam could break.

Boaters must now go at idle-speed on most parts of the lake. 

The exception is in the no-speed limit zone stretching from Sellers Point to just east of the North Shore boat ramp.

"It is down several feet this year and there's not nearly the people that would be out on a day like today,” said fisherman Gene Greenlee.

When asked what should happen to the dam Greenlee said,  “Rebuild it.  Let's do it right though, you know.  As long as they do it right, we'll be patient out here."

Nancy Lewis comes to the lake every weekend from Lancaster to walk with her boyfriend. 

She hopes the dam is fixed quickly because the shallow water is impacting wildlife.

"It makes you want to cry, it seriously does,” said Lewis.  “And we don't know what's going to happen to the wildlife.  What's going to happen to the fish.  I mean you've got catfish, all different species of fish here.  We've come up here and actually seen them spawn so to see this destruction, it is heart wrenching for me."

Governor Kasich has said Buckeye Lake will remain at these low water levels until a new dam is built and that's going to take time.

It is a project that could take up to five years to complete.

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