Lake George to close early this year for improvements

Photo courtesy Missouri State Highway Patrol

ILLINOIS CITY, Ill. – A planned drawdown of Lake George, the man-made lake located within the Loud Thunder Forest Preserve, is scheduled to begin after Labor Day to allow for repairs and updates to the dam for compliance reasons.

As a result, boat rentals will close for the season on Tuesday, Sept. 4, and won’t open again until the spring. Loud Thunder Road will be open during the construction, but lanes size will scale to 10 ft. wide. The public boat ramp and lake access to fish from Loud Thunder Road will also be closed to the public starting Sept. 10 and remain closed until April.

Since the construction of the original dam, multiple improvements have taken place, resulting in a reclassification of the dam from Class 3 to Class 1, bringing new requirements through the DNR.

“Lake George is a great fishery and an asset to the District, Loud Thunder Forest Preserve and residents of the community,” said Jeff Craver, Forest Preserve District director. “Ensuring it is a safe environment for visitors, whether on the lake itself or below, is our number one priority.”

Fishing beyond the construction zone will be allowed from the banks while work continues, which will be clearly marked. The drawdown of the lake is expected to be about 20 feet at most, Craver says, and is fed by the Big Branch Creek watershed, once the work is completed the lake should come back to normal levels fairly quickly.

“We are working closely with biologists from the Illinois DNR to ensure proper steps are being taken for the wildlife at Loud Thunder,” Craver added.

Funding for the spillway and dam improvements was approved in September 2017, when the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission approved issuing bonds for the work. Of the total $4.5 million approved, $1.9 million will go toward the dam and spillway, while another $2.1 million will pay for updates to several camping areas. Currently, well, septic and electrical improvements are still being planned for the campground areas. The campground improvement work will begin in spring 2019.

For more information on Loud Thunder Forest Preserve visit, http://www.ricfpd.org/Activities/Camping.aspx