Lake Murray cleanup amid low water levels

By: Alex Belser Email
By: Alex Belser Email

CARTER COUNTY, OK - Residents will turn out to clean up Lake Murray on Saturday, as plans for a new hotel and nature center get underway.

Over 100 people including business groups and Boy Scouts will pitch in to pick up litter at different spots all around the lake, in hopes improving business this summer.

"We do have over 100 miles of shoreline to cover, so that isn't going to get it all," organizer Leslie Hicks said. "We're expecting people to come out. We've got gloves, trash bags, and water."

One park ranger said the help is needed, with visitors leaving litter and animals scattering campsite trash to the wind.

"There's no way for us to do it by ourself without the involvement of the community," Sgt. Jim Sturges said. "It's impossbile to stay on top of it."

Hicks said she discussed the trash with some friends over coffee and decided to do something about it.

"We went out there and camped and I just saw the trash," Hicks said. "I just couldn't believe how much trash was in the water and you get out there and you're skiing and there's obstructions in the water."

"Up north by the hiking trails along the waterfront there are big rusted barrels, there's a place there's six of them," parkgoer Jody Watson said.

The lake remains almost five feet below normal, exposing rocks along the shore.

"The lake's low enough out there that there are rocks people have never seen, so there's some areas out there you could definitely do boat damage on," boat repairman Lloyd Vaughn said.

Tucker Tower will stay closed until next spring after funding came through to build a nature center in the parking lot.

The new park office is now open, near where a new hotel will rise next to the current lodge.

"I think a lot of people will be excited for something new," front desk supervisor Katie Kendall said. "Most people want something new and not older these days."

"The lodge is beginning to deterioriate to the point where it's not economical to maintain it and we have seen occupancy decline in the past few years," said State Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Ardmore.

The $15 million for the new hotel will come from the state's oil and gas holdings at the park, lawmakers said.

Meantime, those who love the lake are praying for spring rain.

"If we get two feet of rain in here come spring and get the water up a little bit, we'll be alright," marina maintenance man Jeff George said.

The cleanup begins on Satuirday at 9 a.m. If you would like to help, you are asked to go to the park office, which is near the Chapel and the Lodge.

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