A Fourth of July with hot, dry temperatures means park and lake visitors need to exercise extra caution when boating, swimming or camping.
LCRA prohibits open fires at its parks that are located in counties that have adopted burn bans – Llano County and unincorporated areas of Travis County. LCRA honors burn bans issued by individual counties where its parks are located. LCRA parks with burn bans currently include Black Rock Park and Cedar Point Recreation Area in Llano County and the following Travis County parks along Lake Travis: Turkey Bend, Muleshoe Bend, Gloster Bend, Pace Bend, Bob Wentz at Windy Point, Cypress Creek, Hippie Hollow and Mansfield Dam.
The ban prohibits campers and other park visitors from using charcoal, wood or other solid fuels for ground fires, even in fire rings. Park visitors may continue to use above-ground barbecue grills with charcoal only and gas-fired cooking stoves if they are kept off the ground. Also, the possession or discharge of fireworks on LCRA land or water is always prohibited.
Several Highland Lakes fireworks displays may keep additional boaters on the water after sunset. Boaters who had not planned to be on the water after dark may decide to stay a little longer and enjoy the fireworks, so it’s a good idea to check in advance to make sure boats have proper lighting and that something is on board to signal for help in the dark if needed.
Boaters planning to launch from a public ramp at Lake Travis or Lake Buchanan will have only one boat ramp available at each lake until rains bring the lake levels back up.
Currently, Mansfield Dam Park has the only public boat ramp available for boaters to use on Lake Travis. It is usable until the lake level drops below 632 feet above mean sea level (msl). As of June 29, the lake was around 640 feet above msl.
On Lake Buchanan, White Bluff Park, which is operated by Burnet County, is the only public boat ramp available for launching. It is usable until the lake level falls below 993 feet msl. As of June 29, the lake level was around 997 feet msl.
For updated information on usable Highland Lakes public boat ramps and current lake levels, look online at www.lcra.org/parks/boat_ramp_info.html.
The Austin Police Department Lake Patrol Unit will enforce the City of Austin’s personal watercraft ban on Lake Austin from sunset Tuesday, July 3, until sunrise Thursday, July 5. The City of Austin has jurisdiction over Lake Austin. For more information, call the APD Lake Patrol Unit at (512) 329-8841.LCRA does not ban the use of any type of watercraft on lakes over which it has jurisdiction – lakes Buchanan, Inks, LBJ, Marble Falls, Travis, Fayette and Bastrop.
LCRA’s Nobody’s Waterproof outreach team will be giving away life jackets at Mansfield Dam Park and on Lake Travis on June 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and at Lake LBJ’s Aqua Boom festival in Kingsland on July 4 from 4 to 10 p.m.
Boaters are reminded that while LCRA marks many of the known hazards on the Highland Lakes, it is impossible to mark all of them because hazards change with the lake levels. Channel buoys on lakes Buchanan and Travis typically mark the lake river channel and the deepest water. Also, with shallow areas increasing, life jackets are even more important because when boats run aground, their passengers may be thrown from the boat. For safe boating and swimming tips, go to www.nobodyswaterproof.com.
To help keep the lakes and waterways safe for everyone, LCRA suggests these tips for the July 4 holiday:
- Wear a life jacket
- Designate a driver
- Watch your friends and family
- Pay attention to your surroundings
- Never swim or boat alone
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated