MONTICELLO, Ind. (WLFI) - Water level at Lake Freeman in Monticello are much lower than normal and the president of SFLECC, Shafer and Freeman Lakes Conservation Corporation, Merle Peterson said he's afraid boaters won't know the hazards underwater.
"There's so many hidden logs, stumps, shoals, and rocks that becomes a danger to boating because the lakes are normally maintained at the same level all year round by the dams," Peterson said.
Water levels are low because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ordered that the Oakdale Dam be opened to protect the endangered fanshell muscles in the Tippecanoe River.
Since water levels are normally controlled, Peterson worries boaters may hit stumps under water that could damage their boat or injure skiers, tubers, or people in the boat.
From past scheduled drains, SFLECC has seen the hundreds of stumps on the bottom of the lake and Peterson warns all boaters to take caution.
"Even if you're a first-time visitor or a long-time visitor, pick out an area you want to ski or tube in or boat in do that area at a slow speed, survey it thoroughly and then proceed with your lake activities. Just don't go out full speed," Peterson said.
The low water levels could also affect businesses located on the shores of Lake Freeman that rely on visitors during the summer.
SFLECC Executive Director Daryl Johns said one popular business might not leave shore.
"The Madam Carroll will be beached," Johns said. "They won't be able to get out and they won't be able to operate at all. The Sportsman's Restaurant just up to the north here relies a lot on boat traffic that could come in and out and have lunch. That's just the tip of the iceberg, I mean, the economy around White County, if we can't have recreational time in the summer time would just be a bust."
Some boats are left high and dry in docks because the water is only a couple of feet deep and Peterson said if we don't get rain, boating might end for the season.
"If it doesn't rain, we're looking at dry mud beds," Peterson said.
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