BILLINGS — The lake in Lake Elmo State Park in Billings has sat dry for about the last six months, but will soon be refilled with water. However, much still needs to be done before the busy summer season arrives.
Kristen Merchant and her kids are regulars at Lake Elmo State Park and live right down the street.
“We come here almost every day,” Merchant said on Monday.
This popular recreation spot has been without water since September when it was drained to kill invasive Asian clams.
“We think that those all got frozen, starved, and dried out during the winter,” said Bob Gibson, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Communication and Education Program Manager on Monday.
The draining of the park has allowed Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to make new improvements.
“We’re excited for the renovations because they’re supposed to expand the trails like for the stroller and things,” Merchant said.
The walkway next to Lake Elmo Drive will be more accessible for those with wheelchairs.
“They widened that out, it’s going to be 12 feet wide,” Gibson said.
A hand ramp has also been added to the south side of the like, providing a place for kayakers and rafters to get to the water.
“That will provide also a place for people that are a little mobility challenged to get down to the ice during the winter,” said Gibson.
New jetties will be installed on the lake, giving park goers new places to fish.
“We’ll start putting some trout in here from the hatchery,” said Gibson.
Fish, Wildlife, and Parks will also add bluegills, crappie from Yellowtail, and some catfish from the Yellowstone River.
Gibson said the water will be returning any day now.
“Supposedly the irrigation district is going to turn the headgate back on today, if not it will be early this week,” Gibson said.
Meaning parkgoers will soon be able to utilize the lake with paddleboards and kayaks.
“My youngest son has kayaks and things so we’re kind of missing out on that but we’re excited for them to fill it back up,” said Merchant.