May 26, 2007

Kings River Low, but Visitors Don’t Mind: Boaters Are Asked to Go Slowly in Tulare Co.

By Tim Bragg, The Fresno Bee, Calif.

May 26--Memorial Day weekend hasn't been a fun one for the last couple of years at Lindy's Landing.

In 2005 and 2006, high river water levels and flooding on Memorial Day weekend closed campground, picnic and boat-launching facilities on the Kings River as it flows through Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties. Lindy's Landing, an RV park, campground and boat-launching destination, sits on tree-lined land south of Reedley in northern Tulare County.

"It's been kind of a struggle the past few years," said Nick Hendon, office manager for Lindy's Landing.

This year, Lindy's Landing and other boat-launching facilities face the opposite problem: too little water.

Tulare County is restricting vessels to 5 miles per hour on its portions of the river because of slow water flows, said Neil Pilegard, Tulare County parks manager.

Vessels can still launch in the river when it is deep enough, but Tulare County sheriff's river patrol deputies will be enforcing the speed limit this weekend, he said. Because the river is not closed, as it was last year, people can swim and play in the water as usual.

The speed limit for vessels on the Kings River will be in effect until the water flow reaches 800 cubic feet per second at the Highway 99 bridge, Pilegard said.

"Anything lower than that, and you have shallow water," he said. Flows in the river, which are governed by the Kings River watermaster, are not expected to rise much over the weekend, Pilegard said.

Hendon said Kings River officials have told him that water flows are expected to increase starting Friday, but they will decrease by another major weekend holiday for river resorts -- Labor Day weekend.

That said, Hendon said he expects brisk business this weekend from people looking for a relaxing time of fishing, swimming and other activities that don't include fast-paced boating, water craft or water skiing.

Low water is better than high water, said Michael Bradshaw, who lives year-round at Lindy's Landing.

"We always have a good time whether the water is up or whether it's down," he said. "The last flood really wiped out the beaches, but they have come back. I think the flood is still keeping people away."

During last year's flood, the river came all the way up to the campground's bathroom facilities, which made it difficult for campers who decided to brave the high water.

"It's been high the last two years; you had an obstacle course with the trees," said Tony Alvarado, who comes to Lindy's Landing each year with a group of family friends from Redondo Beach.

Michelle Davila and Bruce Dye, also from the Redondo Beach group, acknowledged that some may find it odd that they were fleeing a coastal area for the warm, inland Valley. But they said Lindy's Landing and the river allow them to get away from the hustle and bustle of Southern California.

On Friday, the group had several jet skis in the water, but they weren't being used much because most of the adults were content to sit back and watch the water. A couple of children played in the water, and two girls sunbathed on a boat dock.

Other resorts on the river also said the low water levels wouldn't be a major drag on their business.

"We're completely booked," said Chrysann Carpenter, manager of Riverland Resort near Kingsburg.

The reporter can be reached at [email protected] or (559) 622-2417.


Copyright (c) 2007, The Fresno Bee, Calif.

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