INCLINE - After closing early last year because of a low lake level, the Sand Harbor boat ramp opened yesterday for the upcoming season.
The ramp closed July 12 last year, forcing boaters to seek other launch sites around the lake, of which there were few, including Cave Rock on the South Shore and Obexer's Boat Company on the West Shore with its 40-foot ramp in 18 feet of water.
The closure last year came on the heels of the five-year drought that has affected the area.
The Nevada Division of State Parks made the decision to close the boat launch, which normally operates year-round, after the lake level dropped to 6,224 feet.
State Parks requires a minimum lake level of 6,225.35 feet for launching.
The past six months has seen a reversal in the weather, as the basin has been inundated with precipitation since October storms and record snow falls in December.
"We are happy to finally open the ramp to everyone," said Park Supervisor Richard Keller. "We have been getting a lot of questions on its status, and we didn't want to open up until we were sure it was safe to launch most boats."
The ramp is expected to remain open to motorboats throughout the summer season because of the higher snowfall averages.
"Visitors should arrive early, as we do expect to fill up every day," Keller said. "Sand Harbor is considered the nicest launch ramp on Lake Tahoe and is the busiest ramp in Northern Nevada."
Park Ranger Dale Connor, in charge of operations at Sand Harbor, pointed out that visitation to Sand Harbor did not decrease last year, since the boat parking area was used as an overflow for the main visitor parking lot.
"With the visitor center construction and utilities upgrade, we lost quite a few parking spaces," Connor said. "Fortunately we were able to offer the boat parking lot last year as an alternative."
Caution is still advised when using the ramp due to low water conditions.
For more information, call (775) 831-0494.