Low lake levels in East Texas pose danger to boaters

Smith County Game Warden Chris Swift is warning boaters to be watchful of sandbars or exposed...
Smith County Game Warden Chris Swift is warning boaters to be watchful of sandbars or exposed obstacles on area lakes.
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 1:43 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2022 at 10:40 PM CDT
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SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - The blistering summer heat creates a danger of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, but it can also cause dangers on our East Texas waterways due to low lake levels.

At Lake Tyler, just finding a place to launch is a challenge.

“Yeah at 64 they told us it was going to be a lot harder to get in, so we came over to the ramp here,” said boater Mark Hicks.

East Texas game wardens are reporting extremely low levels on numerous lakes.

“Lake Tyler 26-27 inches, over 2 feet low. Lake Palestine right at 23-24 inches. A lot more obstacles on Lake Palestine. Lakes with timber that don’t have marked navigation channels a lot more concern. This is the lowest these lake have been since 2011,” said Smith County game warden Chris Swift.

Boats have also run aground on sandbars, and underwater obstacles have been exposed; obstacles which can strand or damage boats, and there have already been boaters that had to be rescued.

“Yesterday we had a gentleman stranded on Lake Palestine. He got centered on some high logs, Henderson County games wardens had to go out and get him and his dog,” Swift says.

Another danger is a sudden stop, hitting an obstacle, could mean people lurched forward or ejected from the craft.

“We don’t want to see kids on the very front of a boat. We don’t want to throw anybody out of the boat, especially at a high rate of speed,” the Smith County game warden said.

The warning to boaters is to be watchful. Not all danger areas are marked.

“We don’t have enough buoys to maintain all these shallow spots that are popping up every week,” said Swift.

Game wardens advise boaters to watch out for buoys marking obstacles and to reduce speed in areas you know are shallow.

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