Lake Vesuvius refilling picks up pace

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 5, 2004

Lake Vesuvius is starting to live up to its name and look like a lake once again.

The lake is already approximately one-third full - even though the dam valve has only actually been closed for less than a week.

Lake Vesuvius was drained in January 2001 and much of the 143-acre recreation area within the Wayne National Forest has been closed while

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a boardwalk and fishing pier were constructed and improvements were made to the dam and boat ramp.

Wayne National Forest officials closed the dam valve Dec. 15 to allow the lake to begin refilling, but later that day it was determined that some unknown debris would not allow the valve to completely close.

The valve had to be reopened so a crew could find the problem. After the debris was removed, the valve was closed again last Monday, said John Brown, assistant district ranger.

Though the water that probably covers one-third of the lake has a dirty brown color right now, it will begin to clear up as it continues to fill, Brown said.

An official reopening ceremony for the entire Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area is being planned for late May or early June.

Proctorville residents Martha Eaton and her mother Elizabeth Eaton stopped by the lake Friday to see how the refilling was coming along. Both were impressed with the progress.

"The last time we were out, it looked like a field. You couldn't even tell a lake had been there," Martha said. "Now, it is starting to take shape."

The Eatons have been regulars at the lake to picnic, canoe and hike ever since Martha was a young girl. They are excited about the new additions.

"I am really impressed with the fishing pier," Martha said.

Even for Wayne National Forest employees like Brown, it is exciting to see the lake start to fill.

"I have never seen it filled. I have only been here about a year," Brown said. "It will be nice to see it completely filled and get the area opened back up for recreation."

Originally, it was hoped that the dam valve could be closed by the end of October, but a rainy summer delayed the project.

The $4.1 million dam and spillway renovation project and the $1 million boardwalk project have been completed except for a few landscaping and cosmetic touches.

J&H Erectors Inc. of Portsmouth built a 1,400 foot boardwalk that connects the boat ramp with the dam. Fully handicapped accessible, it also includes a shaded fishing pier.

The boat ramp parking lot has been expanded and a second entrance has been added. The boat ramp itself has been widened and new restrooms and dock points were added. The parking lot will be paved this spring.

Volunteers added Christmas trees, logs and other structures on the lake bottom to create fish habitats. The lake will be restocked with bluegill, bass, catfish and crappie this spring.