In another omen of deepening drought, the most popular public boat ramp on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe is closing a week from Sunday because of the falling level of the lake.
More than 7,000 boats were launched from Sand Harbor State Park last summer. Now, boaters will get to use it over the Fourth of July, then it will close the following Sunday.
"We figured (the lake) is going to drop to the level where it's just not going to work any more," park supervisor Rick Keller said.
The lake currently is 6,224.22 feet above sea level. That's about 2 feet below what's usual at this time of year and less than 15 inches from its natural rim. By July 12, the water will be only a couple of feet deep at the end of the Sand Harbor boat ramp and too shallow for continued boat launches, Keller said.
He added that options to keep the ramp open such as extending it to deeper water were impractical or too costly.
Nevada State Parks will still operate a public boat ramp at Cave Rock, which has a deeper channel and should remain open for the season, Keller said. Last summer, more than 6,400 boats were launched from Cave Rock. Keller expects many of the vessels displaced from Sand Harbor will head there.
"We're recommending you get there very early," he said.
He also said the news at Sand Harbor isn't totally dismal. Kayaks, canoes and similar vessels that don't use trailers can use the boat ramp all summer.
"The kayakers are going to love it. They'll have the whole place to themselves," he said.