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Bois d'Arc Lake Recreational Options Still Taking Shape

Bois D’Arc Lake is filling up. Construction work remains to be done. The North Texas Municipal Water District, which is responsible for its construction and for the service it intends to provide for North Texas, is confident of the return the lake will deliver to the residents who consume the water.

But there’s a hitch of sorts. The lake is not yet ready for “recreational use,” according to Kathleen Vaught, a public information officer with NTMWD. The lake could be ready for “boating, fishing, skiing, hunting or any of the other recreational activities” no earlier than next summer, Vaught said.

She assures the region, though, that the lake and its surrounding acreage will provide “all the things associated” with these kinds of projects.

“We are all excited that Bois d’Arc Lake is filling with water and the opening of the lake is in sight, but we need to be patient,” said Jennifer Stanley, Lake Operations Manager for NTMWD. “Much work remains to be completed before it is safe to open,” she added.

At the dam site, construction crews are topping off the dam embankment and finishing work on the raw water intake structure, spillway and pump station. Other work at the lake includes completing the NTMWD lake administrative offices and the three boat ramps.

What does the NTMWD have in mind for the lake’s recreational uses? Stanley and other water district officials are begging for patience as the work continues throughout the complex.

Bois d’Arc Lake is the first reservoir built in Texas in nearly 30 years. It encompasses more than 16,000 acres in north Fannin County. NTMWD began impounding water on April 21. Officials say it will take time to bring the lake to capacity, given that the district will depend a great deal on the amount of rain that falls on the region.

According to the NTMWD website: “The lake’s name honors local history and recognizes the Bois d’Arc [pronounced bō-ˌdä(r)k] tree as a distinctive symbol with special significance for the region. Bois d’Arc Lake will meet the water needs and demands for our growing region of 1.8 million people until 2040. Low-interest funding approved by the state will pay for nearly all of the project and save the district and ratepayers millions in financing costs.”

Recreational opportunities will be varied and will provide plenty of uses for regional residents and visitors to enjoy, water district officials say.

“The opening of the lake is dependent on the construction and the filling of the lake,” Stanley said. Galen Roberts, assistant deputy of water resources for NTMWD, said the maximum depth of the lake at the dam will be 70 feet, tapering off to “just a few feet at the other end of the lake.” Roberts said the lake’s average depth will be 22 feet once it is filled. He also said that where the NTMWD has kept standing timber near the lake, “That will be a fisherman’s paradise.”

Roberts and Stanley point out that the water district has been working closely with the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to ensure they are ready to respond to emergencies once the lake opens. “Public safety is paramount,” Roberts said. “It is the single most important aspect we’re looking at” as the district finishes construction and prepares to open the lake to the public. He said the district is meeting regularly with the sheriff’s office and TP&W to hammer out the details of the agencies’ emergency response plans.

Plans also are afoot to allow “public hunting” on the lake. Roberts and Stanley indicated that the activity is likely to involve “waterfowl hunting, mostly.”

As for camping, recreational vehicle use and other non-water-related activities such as hiking and biking, that remains a bit uncertain, according to Roberts. There well could be RV sites developed on private land, Roberts said, but he noted that Fannin County has zoning authority over deciding where that activity would be allowed.

“We also expect there to be considerable commercial development,” Roberts said, calling attention specifically to marinas that could be introduced.

Stanley wanted to make the public aware that the NTMWD is working hard to complete construction of the lake, but that “it’s not open just yet.”

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NTMWD officials stress that the district’s website contains plenty of information for the public to see as Bois d’Arc Lake inches closer toward completion. You can see that information at https://www.ntmwd.com.

John Kanelis is a former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, also is a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is retired but is still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.