It’s hard to place a small boat in the Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake at current low water levels. The lake level is low because of extremely dry February and March water inflows into the system. There are two formal boat launches on the reservoir with the Buttle Lake boat launch and the Karst Creek boat launch.
“As part of the consultative water use planning process with the community years ago, we developed a physical works program to make improvements to certain things, like these two boat ramps, which are operated by BC Parks, versus holding water levels high which in years like this is not possible,” said BC Hydro spokesperson, Stephen Watson. “We were required to upgrade boat ramps for use during the typical summer recreation season. We completed the Buttle Lake ramp last fall and this spring, we are making improvements to the Karst Creek ramp. We are also using this low water level as an opportunity to extend the Karst ramp so the reservoir is potentially accessible at lower levels – that was never the goal but we are able to make some modest extensions that we believe the community will appreciate. We have been working closely with BC Parks who will continue to be responsible for ongoing operation and maintenance.”
The Buttle Lake boat ramp improvements last year were made during a higher lake level, and in early April this year, improvements at the end of the concrete planked ramp were adjusted to make it less rocky and to smooth it out for safety. During low water levels only 4×4 trucks should proceed beyond the concrete onto the gravel portion of the ramp. Generally, for a 2×4 vehicle, a lake level of about 216.3 metres is needed to launch a boat. It is a similar situation at Karst Creek. Any 2X4 vehicles launching beyond the concrete at the end of the ramp at either site will likely become stuck or dragged over threshold into the reservoir.
For the Karst Creek ramp, similar plank replacements and a short extension will be put in place in taking advantage of the low reservoir levels. The ramp will be closed during the work, which is happening now, until about May 17. The combined cost of the Buttle and Karst Creek ramp upgrades are about $850,000.
Hydro issued a public notice in early April that forecasted the Upper Campbell Reservoir/Buttle Lake potentially only peaking at an elevation of 215.5 metres this summer, about four metres below ideal recreation levels. This wetter than normal April may slightly improve that reservoir level forecast. The water level on April 24 was at about 213.9 metres.
BC Hydro also just completed a new trail near the Buttle Lake Campground Day Use Area that winds through the forest to then access the shoreline area. The work was a result of the water use planning process.