MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

June 30, 2013

Drought hurts trade at Lake Altus-Lugert


Associated Press

— LONE WOLF (AP) — The ongoing drought that’s lowered the water level at Lake Altus-Lugert in southwestern Oklahoma by about 20 feet has also reduced the number of vacationers, but officials at Quartz Mountain State Park say the water and fish in the lake remain safe.

“Those conditions have really affected park and lodge revenues,” park director Terry Mosley told The Lawton-Constitution. “For us, you can take your pick of the situations affecting us — low water, fish kill, drought and extremely hot conditions. But we still had a very good crowd on Memorial Day weekend and looking for a good crowd on July 4.

“For today’s recreational user, the water is safe,” he said. “And our boat ramps are still functional.”

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report, released Thursday, shows that the region remains in severe to extreme drought, although rain has improved conditions in adjacent areas to moderate drought in recent weeks.

Mosley said the golden algae that has appeared at the lake and resulted in the deaths of fish is only harmful to fish and other gilled animals. He said the algae forms because of cold weather during spring cold snaps that bring late freezes to the area, and concentrations of salt. He said the lake is being restocked.

“We actually had good fishing with some catfish and crappies stocked in the lake,” he said.

One family that comes to the park to camp annually said that the water conditions haven’t deterred them from visiting again this year.

“Every year we have a family reunion here,” said Connie Sanchez of Amarillo, Texas. “We’ve come here every year for the past 50 years.”

Sanchez said the annual reunion attracts family from Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa and Montana. Although she and other family members were “saddened” by the low water level, which detracts from the park’s beauty, she has no regrets about coming back.

“Even if there was no water, we’d still be coming here,” she said.