Cabins, canoes, kayaks, fishing boat for rent, lake association creating fish habitat
MANHATTAN -- It's been a busy year at Tuttle Creek State Park , and as summer approaches, the park has a number of improvements to attract visitors. The park now has four cabins, kayaks, and canoes for rent, and the Tuttle Creek Lake Association has been busy improving fish habitat.

The cabin project is a partnership among the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP), Bank of Gardner, Kansas Wildscape, and the Country Stampede. The cabins are operational year-round. In addition to the four cabins currently open, the park plans to add three more cabins in 2006.

Current cabin rental rates vary on weekends and weekdays, as well as time of year. Cabins rent for as little as $55 and as much as $85 per night and are complete with bathroom, heating and air conditioning, full kitchen, table and chairs, basic pots and pans, and table service for four. Cabins reserve quickly, so potential users should contact the park office at 785-539-7941 for early reservations.

For park visitors who have the urge to try canoeing or kayaking but don’t have the equipment, the park has eight canoes, four kayaks, two paddle boats, a canoe trailer, and a small fishing boat for rent. The boats can be put on the River Pond Area, which is perfect for the novice. Since the Kansas River is close by, many users will rent canoes or kayaks and take a trip from Manhattan to Wamego.

Rental rates are $5 per hour or $20 per day per boat. If a group takes five or more boats, the rates drop to $4 per hour or $15 per day. A canoe shuttle requires an additional boat charge. The boats come with all paddles and personal flotation devices. Reservations can be made on the canoes or kayaks by contacting the park office. Because only two paddle boats are available, they may be rented by the hour only and are restricted to the River Pond.

For years, the Tuttle Creek Lake Association (TCLA) has been developing fish habitat structures and placing them at strategic locations around the reservoir and River Pond Area. Each year, the TCLA, in cooperation with KDWP, builds the structures to create feeding areas and cover for small fish. The structures are primarily targeted for crappie, but they benefit almost all fish.

Each structure consists of a five-gallon bucket that has four or five 2-inch by 2-inch by 18-inch lumber stakes sticking out. Concrete then is poured in the bottom half of the bucket to hold the stakes in place. After curing, the buckets are placed in the water by boat, generally in groups of 75 to 200, creating a crappie bed. In 2005, nearly 1,000 of these buckets were placed in the lake. They have a life expectancy of 20 years.
If the process sounds labor intensive, it is, and KDWP and TCLA would appreciate assistance. The project is great for individuals or even a business that is looking for an employee event. To volunteer, phone the park office at 785-539-7941.