Pomme de Terre Lake received $85,000 and Stockton Lake received $2.1 million in supplemental funding to repair recreation areas damaged in the 2019 flood event that impacted areas along the Missouri River within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District.
The Stockton Lake Project Office used $1.6 million of the $2.1 million to update and relocate 28 damaged campsites at Ruark Bluff East and Orleans Trail campgrounds.
“We had multiple areas in our parks that were impacted by flooding during that time—beaches, boat ramps, roadways in lower lying areas and campsites near the lake,” Stockton Lake Civil Engineering Technician Caleb Young said.
The Pomme de Terre Lake Project Office was in a similar situation.
“While we were holding water during the 2019 flood, we had a lot of wind action with the high water and it eroded some of the banks, and the water rose to some of the campgrounds which sustained some severe damage,” Pomme de Terre Lake Operations Project Manager Brian Wright said.
At Pomme de Terre, they utilize wooden timbers to build up campsites, level them out and make them safe for campers.
“With the flood event, some of the timbers were completely gone, [meaning] some of campsites were completely gone,” Wright said.
The lake projects had to start from scratch, redesigning campsites—some in the same place and others on higher ground. At Stockton, all 28 of the damaged sites were relocated to reduce future flood risk.
“A lot of the time we just go back and repair these sites in place, but then when the next big flood event happens, we are back in the same situation [with more damage],” Young said. “So being able to pull these sites and move them to higher ground was kind of a big deal for us.”
Only some of the sites at Pomme de Terre needed to be moved to different locations. The project office staff had a different issue at the forefront of their decisions.
“We looked at some of the site’s utilization numbers and they showed us that if campsites did not have electricity or water, they were not being nearly as utilized as the ones that did have electricity and water,” Wright said.
So, the project staff took 26 of the underused, damaged sites and got to work.
“We went in and redesigned one area at Nemo Campground with 15 underutilized sites. We added electricity and water and made it one entire group camp area,” Wright said.
Pomme de Terre staff used the same concept on the Bridge Loop area in Nemo Campground, redesigning it into a group camp that families and other large parties can reserve for their own private use. Since their opening in late summer and early fall of 2020, these sites have seen around a 60% increase in usage and have been a hit with visitors, according to Wright.
Like Pomme de Terre, Stockton had usage in mind when they started their updates, but they also wanted less maintenance.
“We did a pretty extensive amount of work to rehabilitee the sites and modernize them… We went back into Ruark Bluff, and replaced the campsite paths, driveways and living areas where people park their RVs and their cars with concrete,” Young said.
This change means less maintenance for lake staff and less chance of damage when heavy rains hit, unlike the old gravel areas they used to have. They also added electric, water and other low maintenance materials to the sites as part of the update.
The team at Stockton is excited to see their hard work pay off.
“I feel like we gave those parks a shot in the arm because we were able to do some updates, get these flood prone sites moved so people can use them and [we] know they are not going to be impacted again,” Young said.
Stockton’s updates took a bit longer than Pomme de Terre’s and were completed last fall. They are currently open for reservations for the next recreation season and project staff are ready to get people out to these sites again.
“We love to see people coming out to use the lake,” Young said. “I know for Stockton, there’s a lot of small communities around the lake and when we have our parks open, it’s a boost for local communities because they are buying ice, gas and groceries. We think there’s just a lot of commerce that comes from people being able to come here and use the recreation areas that we provide.”
“We work so hard on campgrounds, and we get to go out and see families and kids just enjoying this great resource—that means a lot to us,” Wright said.
To make a reservation at one of our lakes, visit www.recreation.gov .