BOATING & FISHING: Marion Reservoir offers choices for enjoying outdoors

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN STAFF
Fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, wind surfing, boating, swimming,

sun bathing, bird watching and many other activities are all available

at one large location near the center of Marion County.



Marion Reservoir, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, offers

6,000 water acres and many more hunting and camping acres, for the

enjoyment of tourists and local residents alike.



?During the past few years the conditions for fishing have been

excellent here because of unique conditions that occurred several

years back,? says Neal Whitaker, project ranger.



?Back in the late ?80s and early ?90s we had a localized drought that

caused our water level to be eight feet below normal for several

years, allowing a lot of vegetation to grow around the shore,? he

says.



When the rains and flooding of 1993 occurred, Whitaker says the water

level shot up to eight feet above normal, so the lake experienced a

16-foot increase in a very short time.



?Basically, it was like a new lake had been formed, and the habitat

for fish was prime,? Whitaker says. ?Usually seven or eight years

after the formation of a new lake, or drastic change in conditions

such as we had, the fishing booms. We?re in that time right now, so

the fishing has never been better.?



According to power index, Marion Reservoir ranks No. 1 in the state of

Kansas for walleye fishing, adds Marvin Peterson, Kansas State Parks

and Wildlife Conservation officer.



Camping enthusiasts will also find the choices and facilities much to

their liking. Four parks provide more than 170 camping sites ranging

from semi-primitive to developed, according to information distributed

by the Corps of Engineers. Several new camping sites and shelters have

been added recently.



Fees are $14 per night for the Class A developed sites and $7 for the

other sites. Fifteen sites are available at Cottonwood Point with

50-amp electricity and water. The fee for those sites is $16.



Golden Age and Access passports are available for campers 62 years of

age or older for a one-time cost of $10. The passports allow members

to camp at facilities for half the usual fee.



Marion Reservoir has recently been added to the National Recreation

Reservation Service. Campers may reserve sites by calling toll-free,

1-877-444-6777.



Along with camping fees, day-use fees are also charged. To avoid

potential problems, check with the Corps of Engineers before using

park facilities.



Several boat ramps around the reservoir make it accessible for those

who enjoy the rush of water skiing or jet skiing. The ramps are

located at Cottonwood Point 2 (two ramps, four lanes), Marion Cove

(two lanes), Hillsboro Cove, Marion Cove, Durham Cove and Broken

Bridge.



The coves also offer sheltered areas for such activities, as well as

swimming and picnics. Campers will find picnic tables, grills and fire

rings, sun shelters and gravel parking pads.



At Cottonwood Point and Hillsboro Cove, campers also have access to

electrical hookups, showers, RV dump stations, group camping and

picnic areas, playgrounds and beaches.



Potable water is available in all parks.



For nature lovers who don?t care so much for water-based pursuits, a

nature trail, called the Willow Walk Trail, has been built at

Cottonwood Point to highlight the natural habitat of the area. Much of

the trail is under the shade of trees, making it an enjoyable walk

during warm summer afternoons, although insect repellent is

encouraged.



On your way to the reservoir, stop by the Corps of Engineers office

for statistics and information on fishing?including the 1999 forecast

along with rules and regulations?as well as camping and boating

information. The office is located north

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