Fort Stevenson marina reboundsFor the first time in eight years, the marina at Fort Stevenson State Park is back in business.
By: An AP Member Exchange Feature By Kim Fundingsland, Minot Daily News, The Jamestown Sun
GARRISON, N.D. — For the first time in eight years, the marina at Fort Stevenson State Park is back in business.
Rising water in Lake Sakakawea began entering de Trobriand Bay late last summer, eventually covering the vegetation that had been growing vigorously in the bay and on the floor of the Fort Stevenson Marina. Now there is enough water for even the largest of boats to navigate from Lake Sakakawea to the marina, and the reservoir continues to rise.
“People are just overjoyed with the height of the lake,” said Dick Messerly, Fort Stevenson State Park manager. “They are just ecstatic about it. We’ve been getting call after call from people interested in putting boats in the marina slips. We haven’t been able to do that for eight years.”
It’s not just the cabin cruisers and large sailboats that use the marina. The fishermen who used the marina boat ramp in years past have begun to return as well, particularly since the concession store and bait shop located near the boat ramp is open for business again.
Carey Gieser, the 13-year operator of the Six Mile Corner Bait and Repair Shop, recently entered into an agreement with North Dakota State Parks and Recreation to operate the marina.
“Basically we’ve been resurrecting a sleeping marina,” Gieser said. “It’s been a long drought. A year ago at this time you could walk across the marina and keep your feet dry. Now there’s nine to 11 feet of water in the marina and it is still rising. The slips are all set with electricity and water. The fueling dock is ready to go.”
Fort Stevenson has one marina on the east side of the park. A new marina on the park’s west side, remains in the final phase of construction. It is expected to be completed late this year, probably after the main boating season. A grand opening is scheduled for 2010.
“My intention is to move the boat slips over there, 70 of them, by this time next year and be fully operational at the new marina,” Gieser said. “The concession store will move, the kitchen will be operational there as well. The building on the west side has more room than we have here.”
Nearly 20 vessels were moored in the old Fort Stevenson Marina last week. Most of the remaining slips are expected to fill in the next few weeks as the water warms and families finish their school year.
Gieser got a preview of what the rising water in Lake Sakakawea means to many North Dakotans.
“Several people came in over the Memorial Day weekend and said they couldn’t believe that water was in here,” said Gieser. “It wasn’t long before the east side of the park was just crawling with people and boats. It’s beautiful to look out here and see what we used to see 10 or 15 years ago.”