Published January 1, 2003 | January 2003 issue
The 2002 droughtand Army Corps of Engineers water managementhas left many marina sites and boat ramps along the Missouri River high and dry, and the impact on South Dakota tourism and recreation is just beginning to be felt. The state's Game, Fish and Parks Department issued a report in early 2002 profiling over 60 of the river's docks and ramps and recommending changes to "extend the life of and seasonal use of existing boat ramps and marina facilities."
Proposals range from a modest $35,500 project to widen a ramp at the dude ranch south of Oacoma to a $2.1 million upgrade at Little Bend, on Lake Oahe, including a new ramp and parking lot, shoreline modification and road improvements. Total price tag: $23 million. State estimates of the recreation and tourism benefits of the river average around $80 million annually.
A governor's advisory committee is reviewing the report, visiting sites and holding public hearings with the goal of providing a funding resolution to the next legislative session. It's unlikely the Legislature will spring for the full $23 million, and many river dwellers will continue to pray for more rain and snow. "But that," noted advisory committee member Tom Deadrick of Platte, "is appealing to a whole different level of management."