ST. MARYS — Staff at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park are prepping for what is expected to be a busy week of camping, boating and fishing.
“Attendance has been decent, but we are expecting to have good attendance this weekend into the Fourth of July and next weekend,” Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Brian Miller said. “We have a good weekend this weekend, and some of them are leaving, but we’ll have a good crowd for the Fourth and for the next weekend.”
As of Friday, the campgrounds had 70 reservations for this weekend, 60 for July 4 and 52 for next weekend. However, Miller said it is common for walk-ins to help fill the campgrounds on any given weekend.
“You always get people who just show up without making reservations,” Miller said, noting the 25 percent discount on camp sites, cabins and shelterhouses remains in effect, excluding holidays. “We are looking to have a good crowd — I wasn’t sure if people would stay the week and make a vacation out of it. It doesn’t seem like many are staying the whole week.”
Warm temperatures this summer have not done much to discourage campers from setting up sites at the park.
“Up until the last few days, it’s been pretty good camping weather,” Miller said. “We are seeing increased lake traffic. I’ve talked to some of my folks who are good indicators of what’s going on, and they said last weekend they saw more people using the lake than they have seen in several years. They said people were jet skiing and tubing.”
This year, toxin readings for the lake have ranged from single digits to a high of 38.6 parts per billion for microcystin during the recreational season.
Miller said he believes the work going into cleaning up the lake is showing positive results.
“I think we are seeing a turnaround,” Miller said. “I am seeing more usage of the boat ramps. I think what we are lacking is the out-of-area traffic. I think a lot of local residents are taking advantage of the lake, but we are still seeing a gap in out-of-town visitors.”
Given the recent dry spell, Miller also stressed the importance of properly maintaining a camp fire.
“The biggest thing is they need to keep it confined within their ring,” Miller said.
“They need to keep fires small and be aware that if an ember escapes and hits the grass, it needs to be taken care of immediately.”
Visitors to the campgrounds also will have the ability to take part in a variety of activities.
“Every weekend, and over the Fourth, our naturalist will offer programs to our campers,” Miller said. “Those will include hikes, fishing, some crafts and a variety of other things. Also, our volunteers host a cornhole tournament each weekend and offer coffee and donuts.”