January 29, 2009

'Friends' group works toward more paved roads to lake

‘Friends’ group works toward more paved roads to lake
By JILL DENNING GACKLE
BHG News Service
If the Friends of Lake Sakakawea has its way, there will be 42 more miles of paved roads leading to the lake.
The organization is behind a bill, which was recently introduced in the State House of Representatives, that calls for $30 million to pave access to seven locations around the lake in the next three years.
The bill, HB1515, would provide six miles of paving to Camp of the Cross/Triangle Y Camp, four miles to Indian Hills, six miles to McKenzie Bay, eight miles to Reunion Bay, 10 miles to White Earth Bay, five miles to Wolf Creek Recreation Area and three miles to Little Beaver Bay.
“We believe, as we know our stakeholders do, that Lake Sakakawea is a valuable resource that has been overlooked. Sixty years ago the rich river bottom was sacrificed to protect our friends and neighbors downstream. Yet, our existing access roadways are suffering and continue to deteriorate,” Friends’ Chairman Terry Fleck said at the organization’s annual meeting Jan. 22. He said nearly 60 percent of the public road ramps and a number of small businesses are located at the end of a somtimes long and narrow gravel roadways.
“Demands on these roads continue to increase as the people of North Dakota and tourists discover the vast opportunities on Lake Sakakawea,” he said.
He said the lake was created and, in some ways, under estimated as an economic engine.
“We need to fuel that engine through improved access,” Fleck said. “It’s incumbent on us to lead the charge.”
Fleck said visitation records with those areas that include paved roads leading to the lake have about 2.4 times the visitor traffic that unpaved roads have. He said Lake Sakakawea has an economic value of at least $100 million a year and that number would grow as access is enhanced.
“By paving more access roads, campers, fishermen and sailers will find it easier to get to and enjoy the lake,” Fleck said. “All of a sudden people would come here and find that it meets their expectations. We would be what the Tourism Department has been touting for 25 years.”
 


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