By KYLE WHITNEY
Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE - The Marquette Board of Light and Power is making fishing at the Tourist Park Basin easily accessible to more anglers.
The Tourist Park Basin's new Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant fishing platform shown above was completed Thursday. The Marquette Board of Light and Power is attempting to increase fishing opportunities at the basin, including through a six-year fish-stocking program. (Erik Booth photo)
Earlier this week, 2,500 bluegill were placed in the manmade lake, with more to come in subsequent years as part of the BLP's six-year fish-stocking program.
Erik Booth, BLP manager of planning and utility compliance, said the stocking will certainly help boost the fish population, but that the basin will likely "take a year or two to get back to a real good fishery."
Last year, smallmouth bass were planted and yellow perch will be added next year. After a review of the habitat, the same three species will be added in three following years, as well.
In addition to the fish plantings, the BLP oversaw the construction of a fishing pier that was completed Thursday. The pier, which complies with Americans With Disabilities Act standards, includes a 60-foot boardwalk and a 15-foot by 12-foot deck area.
The platform is accessible from the parking lot off Marquette County Road 550.
The 13 acres of wetlands that were created and seeded last fall are now coming into their own, according to Booth, who has been involved with the BLP project for years.
"(The wetlands) quickly became a new home for wading birds such as sandhill cranes and great blue herons," he said. "In addition, the lake has become hunting grounds for birds of prey such as eagles and osprey."
Booth said visitors to the basin have also seen a variety of waterfowl, including hooded mergansers, black ducks, wood ducks, pintails, shovelers, grebes, buffleheads, gadwalls, red-heads and ring-neck ducks.
The Tourist Park project restored the basin and reconstructed the dam, which washed out in the 2003 flood of the Dead River.
Originally built in the 1920s, the powerhouse is now at full operation and has been producing a steady stream of power since the basin was completely filled in January.
"This project has created a very special place that we hope will be used by families for many generations to get into nature, explore and make memories," Booth said.
One example of that community interaction is the "try and buy" kayak and canoe demonstration, hosted in the park by Marquette's Downwind Sports.
The annual event - scheduled for June 22 this year - was held in the park until the flood a decade ago.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.