June 2nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources closed all state run boat ramps on the Missouri River Thursday morning and is requesting that the U.S. Coast Guard suspend recreational boating on the river due to dangerous river flows and flooding conditions.

In addition, the DNR has suspended the 14-day maximum length of stay rule for people who had to evacuate their homes from the Missouri River flood and choose to camp at Waubonsie State Park in Fremont County.
“We will look at waiving the maximum length of stay at other state parks in western Iowa if the need arises,” said DNR Director Roger Lande.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is increasing the water release to record levels from the series of federal dams on the Missouri River beginning at Fort Peck in Montana.  Closer to Iowa, the Gavins Point Dam, at Yankton, S.D., will more than double its record flow of 70,000 cubic feet per second to a projected 150,000 CFS by mid June.

“We are expecting to see record flooding along the Missouri River and as a safety measure, we are closing all of our boat ramps and are encouraging our city and county partners to close theirs as well,” said Lande.

The projections from the Corps indicate that ramps could be closed as long as six weeks, or more, depending upon additional precipitation in the watershed.  Once flows return below 70,000 CFS, boat ramps can be reopened after passing inspection.

In addition to boat ramps, the DNR has closed and removed the staff at Wilson Island State Recreation Area, north of Council Bluffs, and is watching the levee separating Lake Manawa State Park from the Missouri River.

“The levee at Lake Manawa has never been tested for this length of time like it will during this flood,” Lande said.  “The levee will be carefully monitored for signs of stress.”