McAllister Lake remains closed

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By Lee Einer

The state Game and Fish Department has closed McAllister Lake for fishing until further notice.

Clint Henson, a Game and Fish spokesman, said his agency is unable to stock the lake because of golden algae and water conditions. The closure will last, Henson said, “until Mother Nature decides to give us more water.”

Henson said the lake can get more fresh water next spring from the Storrie Project Water Users Association but that Game and Fish is working on a concrete fish barrier to keep Storrie Lake carp out of McAllister Lake. Officials don’t want supplemental water until it is completed.

McAllister Lake’s woes began last year when changes in personnel resulted in the state’s failing to request the water from the Storrie Project Water Users Association; the consequent low water levels and high water temperatures killed the lake’s trout.

The state decided at that time that it would “take advantage of the situation” by letting the water level decline further, so the carp would die as well.

The state’s strategy to kill the carp was effective, but had an unintended consequence.

McAllister lake is a playa lake. It has an inlet, but no outlet, and salts and minerals which have washed into the lake for years have no place to go, officials said. The state’s allowing the water levels to drop as low as they did raised the concentration of salt in the water, creating favorable conditions for a bloom of golden algae.

Golden algae likes salty water and cooler conditions. It is also deadly to fish. And once it has invaded a body of water, it is not easy to get rid of. So the golden algae killed the carp, but will also kill any fish that Game and Fish restocks. The straightforward way to kill off the golden algae is to render conditions inhospitable for its growth by increasing the amount of fresh water in the lake, thereby lowering the concentration of salt.

But until Mother Nature, Game and Fish and the Storrie Project Water Users association make that so, it appears that McAllister Lake will remain closed to fishing.

Under the recently instituted Gaining Access Into Nature, or GAIN, program, the public can continue to bicycle and hike at McAllister lake, but those 18 and older will now have to buy a permit to do so, for $20 per year, or $9 for a temporary five-day permit.