By Louie Stout
The Indiana DNR isn’t buying up much land to create new public access sites, but they are trying to improve the ones they have.
In fact, northern Indiana waters of Webster, Otter, Bear and Pretty lakes will be getting facelifts this summer.
Weston Zurbrugg, the DNR’s north maintenance supervisor, said he hopes to get on these sites sometimes in July or August, depending upon availability of the excavator that the DNR uses. The access site will be closed for 2 to 3 weeks during construction.
Webster, for example, will have its old ramp removed and replaced with a new concrete ramp designed to protect against power loading issues in the future.
Power loading is when boaters use their outboards to power their boats onto drive-on trailers, a common practice – and almost a necessity – with todays bigger and heavier fiberglass boats.
However, when boats are longer and ramps are shorter, the thrust from outboards blows out a hole at the end of the concrete ramp and creates problems for boaters whose trailer tires drop off the end and into the blow-out hole.
Instead of banning power loading as Michigan has done, Indiana has found a better solution. The new ramps extend 20 feet farther into the water. Zurbrugg says the precast sections they use allow for quick installation.
The Webster site also will get a new launching ADA accessibility pier and ultimately, a new fishing pier.
Given the millions that Michigan DNR takes in through the Access Passport Program, one would think that state would invest in similar ramp improvements to accommodate bigger boats.
Boats are going to get bigger and heavier, making it difficult for older or handicap anglers to load and unload their boats without power loading.