WALLA WALLA, Wash. – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations staff will begin diverting water from Mill Creek to Bennington Lake today in preparation for the upcoming recreation season.
The lake, which was drained in the fall for maintenance, is currently at 1,187 feet above sea level.
“When the lake is filled to recreation level, it will be at 1,205 feet above sea level, 18 feet higher than where it is now,” said Mill Creek Dam and Bennington Lake Operations Project Manager Rick Beauchesne.
Once the lake reaches recreation level, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife staff and program partners from the Tri-State Steelheaders will be able to stock the lake with rainbow trout from the Lyons Ferry Fish Hatchery, Beauchesne noted.
It could take up to a week or more to fill the lake to its target level, depending upon springtime flow conditions in Mill Creek, Beauchesne added.
Recreation areas associated with Walla Walla District’s Mill Creek Dam and Bennington Lake, located just east of Walla Walla, Wash., include Bennington Lake, the Mill Creek Recreation Trail and Rooks Park. The lake and trail are open year-round. Rooks Park is seasonally open to vehicle traffic April 1 through mid-Oct., but accessible year-round to pedestrians.
Corps recreation planners invite the public to "play it safe" while having some warm-weather fun. Although above-water temperatures are becoming warmer, springtime water temperatures can be cold enough to cause swimmers to develop hypothermia – a severe lowering of core body temperature. State boating, hunting and fishing regulations apply to visitors at Corps sites. Hunting on Corps property is allowed in designated areas and seasons only. Boaters should ensure personal floatation devices are on board for each person – children 12 and younger are required to wear personal floatation devices when in a boat. Only paddle-powered or non-combustible-engine-powered boats are allowed on the lake.
For more information on Corps parks, visit www.nww.usace.army.mil/corpsoutdoors.