Red white and blue-green

Algae warning extended, but it doesn’t deter campers

Staff writer

Marion Reservoir's blue-green algae warning, in effect since June 26, was extended Thursday until July 17. Over Independence Day weekend, however, the warning did not stop patrons from filling all 53 campsites in Hillsboro Cove and about 49 sites at Cottonwood Point.

“Hillsboro Cove was 100 percent full and Cedar Point was about 40 percent full,” acting lead ranger Melissa Bean said. “This is my first year at Marion, but the staff here has informed me visitation for this weekend is consistent with past years.”

Bean said she had observed a mix of county residents and patrons from as far away as Kansas City, Wichita, and Great Bend, fishing and boating for pleasure.

“We have a lot of longtime visitors that still have family in the area,” she said. “I feel like our visitors are well read on the risks of blue-green algae.”

David and Janet Oursler of Peabody are just that. They have boated at many lakes including Marion Reservoir for more than 40 years. They enjoy the reservoir because of its size, close proximity to their home, and picturesque atmosphere.

The Ourslers camped and boated at Marion Reservoir to celebrate the holiday weekend.

“It makes for a cheap hotel room,” David said. “We just took our camper back to Peabody and came back to do some more boating. I thought I would see more boats, but the campgrounds had a good deal of people.”

Janet said that using the reservoir was a family tradition.

“Our kids grew up on the lake,” she said. “Our son, Rodney, brings his kids now, too.”

Even with a skim on the water, Rodney said, blue-green algae has never deterred him from getting out on the reservoir nor has it caused any health problems he can attribute to blue-green algae.

“It’s never slowed us down,” he said. “It’s a commonsense thing. We just shower off and drink a lot of liquids.”

The Ourslers said algae warnings can scare potential boaters away.

“It looks worse around the edges where you can see the green accumulation,” David said. “It doesn’t look as bad as it has in years past.”

Swimming continues to be banned at the reservoir.

Humans, pets, and livestock should not drink or come in contact with reservoir water, and pets should not be allowed to eat dried algae.

Although health officials say it is safe to camp, boat, and fish at the reservoir, they warn that if lake water contacts skin or pet fur, the area should be washed with clean drinking water as soon as possible.

Only the fillet portion of fish caught from the reservoir should be eaten. Fish should be cleaned and rinsed with drinking water from another source, and other portions of the fish should be destroyed.

The warning is for Marion Reservoir only. Marion County Park and Lake is not impacted.

Marion Reservoir is one of six Kansas lakes under warning for blue-green algae.

Blue-green algae, technically known as cyanobacteria, can release a deadly neurotoxin. Its presence generally is blamed on agricultural runoff.

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