Thursday, July 19, 2012

Recreation on Hagerman NWR Waters

By Kathy Whaley

Ever think about launching a boat, canoe, or kayak at Hagerman NWR, but you were not sure when or where it is allowed?  Here are a few tips that should help you plan your day on the water.

As of now (July 2012), Refuge waters are open to all types of boats from March 15 through September 30th each year.  This means you can launch a trailered boat from ramps at Tern Road, L Pad Road, and the road that lies between Pad A and Pad B roads on the northwest side of the refuge during this period.  You can also put in a canoe or kayak at these sites, or launch by hand anywhere off the pad roads, at Big Mineral Day Use Area, at the Goode Day Use Area, or near the low water crossing at Meyers Branch (just north of the Visitor Center).  Basically, hand launching is allowed anywhere except along the main Wildlife Drive.

Late in 2011, Refuge staff submitted the required paperwork that will make changes to 50 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) related to boating on Refuge waters.  As soon as the 50 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Proposed Rules that were released July 11, 2012 are finalized later this year, the new regulations will be in effect and the following rules will apply:

·       Entry into refuge impoundments and ponds by any means (i.e., foot, boat, other floating device) for any purpose is prohibited year-round.  Ponds are open to fishing March 15 – October 1.
·        Airboats, hovercraft and personal watercraft (jet skis, wave runners, jet boats, etc.) are prohibited year-round on refuge waters.
·       Boats and all other floating devices are prohibited on all open waters of Lake Texoma except Big Mineral Creek from October 1 through March 14 annually.
·       October 1 through March 14, non-motorized boats only are permitted in Big Mineral Creek from the point where it joins Lake Texoma to the upstream end of navigable waters. This includes any type of gas or electric motor that is on-board and capable of use.  Launching is permitted only from L Pad Road or by hand at the Big Mineral Day Use Area.
·        At the point where Big Mineral Creek joins Lake Texoma, Big Mineral Creek becomes a year-round no wake zone to the end of upstream navigable waters.
Basically this means that non-motorized boating will be allowed year-round in Big Mineral Creek, and it should be safer due to the no-wake requirement for boats.  You may want to check back this fall or winter to see if CFR has been finalized and the new rules have gone into effect.  In the meantime, from now through September, you are allowed to boat anywhere on the Refuge.  As always has been the rule, swimming on the Refuge is and will remain prohibited.  If you need more information, please call (903) 786-2826 or stop by the Visitor Center Monday-Friday and ask for Kathy, Gayle, Rick or Kevin. 

Ed.  Note: July is Lakes Appreciation Month - Take time to enjoy our freshwater resources!

Photo:  Big Mineral Creek, by Joe Blackburn (2008)

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