07/11/12 As a result of the drought, more public boat ramps are becoming unsafe for launching trailered boats, especially on rivers.

Shallow water has increased the risk that boat operators will drive their trailers over the ends of boat ramps, especially in muddy rivers where ramps can be difficult to see underwater.

The trailers could become stuck or damaged, according to Jamie Smyth, fisheries staff specialist with the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife.

“Use common sense,” Smyth said. “Don’t push it too far. If you decide to launch a trailered boat, go nice and slow.”

DNR boat ramps are administered through the DNR divisions of Fish & Wildlife and State Parks & Reservoirs.

The Division of Fish & Wildlife maintains hundreds of boat ramps across Indiana through its public access program and does not monitor water levels at each one. DFW does not plan on closing any ramps and is instead urging people to use their own discretion.

Some ramps are currently only suitable for launching canoes, kayaks and small, hand-carried boats, Smyth said.

“Once you safely launch your boat, use extra caution to avoid shallow water, rocks and other obstacles,” Smyth said.

The DNR Division of State Parks & Reservoirs has closed the Portland Mills boat ramp at Raccoon Lake, although the main boat ramp remains open.

At Mississinewa Lake, the Pearson Mill boat ramp is open for small boats only and the Frances Slocum boat ramp is open for bass-type boats, but not large speed boats. The Red Bridge and Miami boat ramps at Mississinewa remain open with no restrictions.

Water levels are abnormally low at all DNR reservoirs, and boaters are urged to use caution.