Lakes activity starting to pick up

Mothers Amber Vicker and Denise Zollinger of Princeton spent Friday afternoon with youngsters Richard Vicker, Aiden Welch, Lamiyah Welch, Beth York and Meghan Ryder splashing along the shoreline of Lake Barkley at Old Kuttawa Recreation Area. With schools out, the temperatures rising and COVID-19 restrictions lifting, activity around the lakes area is beginning to increase.

Tourism in Kentucky is beginning to open up, and that’s good news for Lyon County, as no other local economy in the state depends more on its visitors.

State parks will start reopening soon as Kentucky continues to ease restrictions amid the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Andy Beshear said last week. But visitors will have to wait a bit longer for one nearby state park.

The parks will reopen June 1 in an effort to revive tourism revenue, Beshear said at his daily briefing.

People can now make park reservations.

Visitors will be expected to follow social distancing and health guidelines, the Governor said.

“Just because we are reopening, just because we can have groups of 10 or less, doesn’t mean social distancing isn’t required,” Beshear said in Thursday’s So, let’s not mess up a good thing, let’s make sure that we do this in the way we have been doing everything else, which is responsibly.”

Reopening to the public will be state resort parks, recreational parks, lodges and cabins beginning June 1, he said.

However, state resort parks designated to house some coronavirus patients won’t reopen to the public June 1, Beshear said. Those are Lake Barkley in Cadiz, Lake Cumberland, Blue Licks Battlefield and Buckhorn Lake.

Campgrounds

Meantime, on June 11, state park campgrounds will open to the public, to self-contained campers and RVs, in accordance with the healthy at work camping guidelines.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is also opening its corps-managed campgrounds on Lake Barkley on the same day. Individuals with reservations impacted by the closure have an opportunity to modify their reservation in order to avoid cancellation of dates beyond June 10.The deadline to complete any modifications to reservations is Monday.

According to a Corps news release, while these campgrounds and most day use areas will be accessible for visitors to enjoy in June, a return to full operations will continue to be phased in and services may be limited. For example, group picnic shelters and developed swimming areas will remain closed at this time.

Visitor centers and resource manager’s offices will re-open for limited public access.

Land Between the LakesAt Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, Turkey Bay Off-Highway Vehicle Area will be reopen for day use only beginning today (Wednesday). Camping within Turkey Bay will not be permitted at this time, though.

Visitors are encouraged to camp at other dispersed, basic or self-service camping areas if needing overnight accommodations within the recreation area.

“There is a lot of interest in re-opening the developed campgrounds,” U.S. Forest Service Area Supervisor Tina Tilley told area judge-executives in an email. “I will work to reopen the remaining campgrounds when we can do so in compliance with evolving state, agency, and CDC guidelines.”

The Elk and Bison Prairie remains closed, but due to road and culvert improvements only.

FishingBoat ramps as well as parks that were already open or not able to be closed remain open at Corps facilities. Restrooms in open areas were opened as needed May 1. Day-use areas will not charge a fee until at least Oct. 1, 2020.

Fishing tournaments can resume June 1, with new guidelines established by Fish and Wildlife Resources officials, the Governor added.

“Tourism is an incredibly important business in Kentucky,” Beshear said. “We’re taking a big revenue hit from it, but that’s not the reason that we’re reopening it now. It’s that we believe we can do it safely with social distancing.

Water recreationWhile swimming pools remain closed, aquatic centers are also being allowed to reopen June 1 for training, as well as lap pools and those designated for exercise. The City of Eddyville’s municipal pool will not open this summer.

It is unclear when Venture River Water Park in Eddyville will reopen.

“As Covid 19 has impacted many parts of our lives, including summer plans, Venture River will be delaying our opening date. We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed,” reads a message from Andrea Jent York, manager and owner, on Venture River’s website.

“As a family-owned business, we are very (conscious) of how important it is to our community and staff to be open for the upcoming season. We will use wisdom and follow safety guidelines in all our decisions.”

The Herald Ledger and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

The Herald Ledger and The Associated Press contributed to this story.