Low lake levels and blue-green algae could be a concern at some Oklahoma lakes for Labor Day weekend, but most lakes are clear for swimming and boating, officials said.
Meanwhile, an old forest friend is reminding campers a statewide burn ban remains in effect, Oklahoma Forestry Services reported.
Copan Lake in Washington County was under a blue-green algae alert Wednesday, with warnings to avoid contact with the water at the Post Oak Beach area, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Tulsa. Boating was allowed.
People were urged to avoid drinking the water and to keep pets out of any discolored water. Fishermen may not want to eat fish from the lake. Algae-related toxins have been found in the tissues of fish.
Nate Herring, spokesman for the corps, said people going to a state lake for Labor Day should check the water before jumping in.
“If it's green on top, stop!” Herring said.
Oklahoma lakes are tested for blue-green algae routinely by the Corps of Engineers, Herring said. Results from algae testing are posted at www.checkmyoklake.com.
Major lakes that are clear of the algae blooms are Fort Gibson, Skiatook, Lake Eufaula, Lake Tenkiller and Lake Texoma.
Grand Lake in northeast Oklahoma also is clear this year, but last summer was under a blue-green algae alert.
“Rain can, in some instances, wash it away — but it can also spread it,” Herring said. “It is hard to tell and it may have to be tested again.”
Herring said the ongoing drought in Oklahoma has lowered lake levels. Skiatook Lake, for example, is 8 feet below normal, he said.
Boaters should watch for obstacles in the water resulting from low lake levels, such as rocks or tree stumps that are exposed.
Campfires and outdoor cooking
The entire state remains under a burn ban enacted Aug. 3 by Gov. Mary Fallin. Outdoor campfires and bonfires are prohibited.
Smokey Bear is making a comeback in posters and advertisements, said Michelle Finch-Walker, Oklahoma Forestry Services spokeswoman. Smokey also provides tips for safe outdoor cooking on the forestry website.
Gas and charcoal grilling are allowed, provided the activity is conducted over a nonflammable surface and at least five feet from flammable vegetation, Finch-Walker reported.
Pressurized stoves also are allowed.
However, any fire resulting from outdoor cooking is an illegal fire.
“We continue to urge everyone to be really careful with outdoor activities that could spark a blaze,” Finch-Walker said.
State parks will be busy during the Labor Day holiday weekend: