Boaters beware before thinking about dropping anchor at a barricaded boat ramp on Canyon Lake.
At least four public ramps have been closed – not because drought has led to drops in water levels throughout the entire lake but only in sections, and all four are in the Canyon Lake Hills area.
“Currently (county) ramps Nos. 5, 7, 22, and 23 are closed due to the lake levels,” Comal County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mike Smith said. “Driving around barricades is covered under Section 472.022 of the Texas Transportation Code and carries a fine up to $200 when not related to barricades placed due to water over the roads such as in flash flood occurrences.”
Monday’s noontime lake level was at 902.79 feet above mean sea level, with enough water for safe boating in most areas, the levels aren’t enough for boating drop-offs at several public and private locations.
There are 23 public boat ramps on Canyon Lake. Nine are leased by Comal County from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns most of the rest.
“Many boat ramps were shut down due to COVID-19, but most are open now,” said Samuel Padgett, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden.
Padgett and Comal County Engineer Tom Hornseth said the four closed ramps end at the water line, instead of below the water line. Those with trailers thinking to drop boats into the water could wind up with a lot of damage.
“The trailer is the reason why the ramps get closed,” Padgett said. “There’s really no other reason — those ramps are not in condition to where you can safely launch boats.”
Calls to the Corps of Engineers office were not immediately returned on Monday. Neither official could say if there have been boaters who tried to slip past barricades, which Hornseth said are up.
“The concrete at the end of the ramp itself is exposed or too shallow to get to the end of the ramp,” Hornseth said. “At the end of the ramp is a drop-off — it will be a vertical drop — so if someone backs their boat off, it will hit the rocks.”
The Water Oriented Recreation District of Comal County’s long-term park leases from the Corps include oversight of ramps No. 3 and No. 4 in Comal Park and No. 18 in Canyon Park.
“Everything is going fantastic at both parks,” said Mike Dussere, WORD general manager, reporting only ramp No. 3 is about six feet away close to joining other ramps sidelined by low water issues.
“Our site lists levels where we’ve predetermined (water levels) before the ramps are closed,” Hornseth said. “And we’ve painted white lines on the ramps themselves, so once they’re exposed, the road department closes them.
“It’s the physical construction of the ramp itself that sets up these conditions,” Hornseth added. “This is fairly normal – we also have to close the ramps when (water) levels get too high, so we get to go through the drill both times.”