COONEY STATE PARK — Beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday, all three boat ramps at Cooney State Park southwest of Joliet will be closed for the foreseeable future due to unusually low water levels.
“This time of year, the irrigators are using more water than is coming in, but this is a particularly dry year so the water level at Cooney has now dropped down to where the last of the boat ramps is now unusable,” said Robert Gibson, a spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Gibson says Cooney Dam is a manmade reservoir, where the water is owned by those who use it to irrigate their fields. Because it has been dry this year, those who use the water to irrigate have needed more than normal.
The boat ramps usually do not get closed until the lake freezes over.
“This is a little bit unusual because of the dryness. There just isn’t a lot of snowpack left that’s going into the lake at this time of year. It usually goes down quite a bit but this year it’s a little bit quicker than we thought, quicker than we would like and the last of the water is off the lowest part of the last two boat ramps,” said Gibson.
Cooney State Park is still open to fishing from the shore, kayaks, canoes, swimming, and camping.
The boat ramps are not expected to open again until next spring.