Campgrounds open

Campers started filling the empty slots at Curtis Creek Campground soon after it reopened over Fourth of July weekend. Repairs from last year’s flooding has been completed and select loops at Curtis and Farnum creeks are now open.

Campgrounds around Milford Lake started opening up during the Fourth of July weekend and campers are grabbing up their favorite spots.

Jerry and Tammy Pittenger, from Salina, were settled into their preferred campsite at Curtis Creek on Monday and said they looked forward to a week of relaxation and reading.

“This is our favorite place,” Jerry said.

The couple has been camping at Curtis Creek for 30 years and always tries to snag up the same spot. They said they like it because the campsites are not real close together; and there is a camaraderie among everyone who camps there on a regular basis.

To ensure they get the spot they want, Tammy said they make their reservations online. Although they have been doing it that way for several years, it is now the only way to do it at Curtis Creek. Blake McPherren, park ranger, said they started transitioning the campground to a cashless system last year, but stopped when they had to shut down because of the flooding.

People will have to call or go online to make their reservations.

“To limit the cost of our recreation program we don’t have a contract gate attendant there anymore,” he said. “People do it themselves on the computer or on their phone.”

In addition to A and C loops at Curtis Creek Campground opening, Farnum Creek A Loop is open.

B loop at Farnum Creek is still closed and probably will be for the rest of the year as well as B and D loops at Curtis Creek, McPherren said.

All of the Corps of Engineers day-use facilities — the swim beach and boat ramps — are also open, and for this year, there are no fees to use them. The shelters, which in the past people have needed reservations for, are available on a first-come first-serve basis this year.

While many areas are opening up as the repairs are completed, West Rolling Hills campground remains shut.

“There’s just a lot of work going on in there right now,” he said. “West was probably one of our hardest hit parks. We’re going to be bringing in … two new restrooms eventually. We’re not sure if that’s going to be opened up this year or not.”

Despite many of the campgrounds not opening until this month, McPherren said they have seen an increase in activity around the lake since the beginning of the pandemic.

“It seemed like more people were getting out and there has been a lot more usage — a lot more boats on the water,” he said. “I don’t have any numbers off the top my head … but I would say there has been a decent increase for day use, especially in boating this year.”

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