The year 2020 with a pandemic has changed a lot of things for many of us. One change noticed by Fish and Game was an increase to the amount of use that occurred on department owned and managed public access sites. The increased demand for recreational opportunities made it abundantly clear how valuable our public access areas are to sportsmen and women.
Fish and Game maintains 70 access sites within the Upper Snake. This year the focus was on making improvements to existing access points which needed some attention, including several sites in the Big Lost drainage. Here are some highlights from the past year.
New vault toilets at Mackay Hatchery-
Vaulted toilets were installed near the fishing pond at Mackay Hatchery. This new amenity is located near the visitor parking area and fishing pond and makes the fishing or sight-seeing trips to the hatchery more enjoyable for you and the family. This was placed in early spring and features an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant parking pad close to the fishing pond so you won’t miss out on any of the family fun.
Dock repairs at Mackay Reservoir-
After installing the new toilet at Mackay Hatchery, the maintenance crew worked on access sites along Mackay Reservoir. They fixed the boat dock at the Mackay Reservoir-lower site by fixing the anchor that holds the dock in place and cleaning sediment from off the lower portions of the ramp while low water levels in the reservoir allowed us to work in the “dry”. In the picture below, they are repairing the dock’s wheels that lets the floating dock roll up or down the bank as water levels change, allowing the dock to self-adjust during changing water levels to maintain the position of the dock at the edge of the water.
One of the unique challenges faced this year was the need to reposition the anchor for the Mackay dock. After several years of wind and shifting ice, the anchor and the dock had moved to a point where the dock became dysfunctional relative to where the boat ramp is located. In the picture below, they are moving the concrete anchor block and dock back into the correct position using lift bags and scuba diving equipment. Once the anchor became suspended with the lift bags, a boat was used to drag the anchor back to the correct position.
Big Lost River-Lower Site updates-
Several updates were made to the Big Lost River-lower site. Truckloads of gravel were hauled in to repair roads and dead trees were removed from the campground making it easier to access and safer to use.
Stennett Access Site parking improvements-
The Stennett Access site had the parking lot extended with a new turn-around area which will make it easier to load/unload small watercraft.
Additional camping at Rothwell Access Site-
Additional camp sites were added to the Rothwell Access site with parking pads and an improvement to the roundabout, making it more convenient to pull campers into and out of the site.
Menan boat dock repair-
After spending time in the Big Lost drainage, the maintenance crew switched gears and worked on the Snake River’s Menan Access site where they made boat ramp repairs and replaced the dock. Prior to repairs, the boat ramp was too short at low water, with broken ramp tiles that needed replaced. The old dock was rough on boats, and was often too far away from the ramp to be useful or too far from the bank to allow one to step on the dock from the bank.
An additional 7 feet of boat ramp were added using concrete tiles to extend this ramp (pictured below), and replaced broken tiles in the upper part of the ramp (pictured above).
The new tiles were connected together prior to installing them into the river and then used diving equipment to attach the new set of tiles to the existing ramp.
The repaired/extended boat ramp and the new dock in Menan are ready for use, but renovations are ongoing with plans for the installation of a gangway in 2021.
The Upper Snake maintenance crew is always thinking outside of the box in an effort to provide the best public access sites possible in terms of usability and safety. "We enjoy what we do because we know how much the public values these access sites and the recreation activities these sites make possible," says Recreational Site Maintenance Foreman Darin Schneider. "I hope everyone is as happy as we are for what we have accomplished so far and stay tuned for more as we remain dedicated to continue maintaining and improving public access sites in the Upper Snake Region."