Trash, altercations, vandalism among reasons cited
PRATT -- The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has announced that it has banned all alcohol -- including 3.2 percent malt beverages -- from state fishing lakes in many parts of the state. Intoxicated drivers, trash, vandalism, fights, rowdy parties that disturb other lake users, and lack of law enforcement manpower are among reasons for the move.

"Drinking at our state fishing lakes has gotten to be a big problem," says James Hulbert, public lands manager for KDWP. "We have intoxicated drivers leaving lakes. Almost every weekend last year at Pottawatomie Lake Number 2, either the state or neighbors had to patch fences where vehicles drove though them. Since we banned alcohol there Jan. 1, we haven't had to fix one fence.

"In addition to trash in the areas, our pit toilets were constantly vandalized when drinkers threw cans and bottles in," Hulbert continues. "It should cost $125 to have the pit toilets pumped, but one contractor took eleven 33-gallon bags of trash out of a pit and had to charge $450 to cover the extra time spent picking out trash. Ninety percent of it was beer cans and bottles."

Hulbert also notes that alcohol has been the cause of many fights at lakes and that families have threatened to abandon lakes because of the rowdy, sometimes dangerous behavior of drinkers.

Currently, the following lakes are closed to all alcohol possession or use: Rooks State Fishing Lake (SFL), Atchison SFL , Douglas SFL , Leavenworth SFL , Middle Creek Lake , Miami SFL , Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area , Pottawatomie SFL #1 , Pottawatomie SFL #2 , Shawnee SFL , Pratt Backwaters, Kingman SFL , Black Kettle SFL, McPherson SFL , Chase SFL , Butler SFL , Cowley SFL , Lyon SFL , and Montgomery SFL .

If problems persist, more lakes may be added in the future. For more information, contact the nearest office of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.