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Filling of Lake Vesuvius to be delayed

PEDRO -- The refilling of

Lake Vesuvius and other park projects have been delayed until the U.S. Congress approves budget appropriations.

Most of the improvements should be completed by next summer.

No new appropriations can be made until the budget resolution passes. This has delayed the construction of a boardwalk which in turn has delayed the refilling of the popular recreational lake, said Mike Freidhof, assistant ranger for the Ironton district.

"It would be too expensive and inefficient to try to build the boardwalk after the lake has water in it," he said.

Originally scheduled to begin in December, the lake will not begin to be refilled until July of 2003 after the boardwalk is completed. The amount of rainfall will determine how quickly the lake fills up. Park officials hope for it to be full and to begin restocking it with fish in early fall, he said.

Work on the $3.7 million dam and spillway improvements is almost complete. Final touches include putting up railing, adding an outlet pipe and installing the new dam gate, which is like a drain valve, he said.

Boat ramp repairs began about a month later than expected but should be completed by the end of November. The project includes expanding the parking area, redoing the retaining walls near the ramp and repaving and regrading the parking area.

"It would have continued to function, but this makes it more convenient and enjoyable," he said. "It was improvements more than repairs."

Sometime in the future, they hope to find a way to remove about 43,000 cubic yards of silt in the upper end of the lake. Ranger Mike Baines has contacted the Lawrence County Commission and looked at the possibility of getting assistance from the Ohio National Guard.

"It would be great if we could figure out a way to get it removed," Freidhof said. "It has filled in so much that it is difficult for boats to make it up there. It is hard to navigate and has decreased the fishing and boating."

The park does not require any special preparations for winter but they are doing the normal maintenance, he said. They hope to keep the Iron Ridge campground open until deer season ends in December.