Has Drought Dried Up Local Lake Businesses? - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/3/06-Smith County

Has Drought Dried Up Local Lake Businesses?

Labor Day weekend is one of the most profitable times of year for local businesses on area lakes.   KLTV 7 News found out, there is a stark contrast in the effect low water levels are having on two of East Texas' most popular lakes.

Ruben Allison was thrilled to learn he could still launch his boat at the Lake Palestine Campgrounds, even though he knows the lake is four feet below normal.  "We moved here 28 years ago this weekend and I've never seen it this low,"said Allison.

Because of the deep water boat ramp at the campground, countless boaters were in and out of the water all day long. It's one of the reasons Laura Tolner says her campground business is doing so well.  "We're getting a lot of calls, and we're getting a lot of drop-ins saying, 'Does your ramp work?' Then I have people walk in and say, 'Are you sure it works?' and I say 'Yes, I'm sure it works!' Our boat ramp is fine," says Tolner.

It's a different scene at Lake Tyler. People are walking around, exploring in spots that used to be swimming holes.  The patio at the marina would typically be full of people eating on the water front, but the restaurant is empty tonight and closing early. The owner couldn't speak to us on camera, but said his business for the weekend is down about 80 percent.

This time last year, there would have been boats all around his gas dock just waiting to fuel up, but with the record low lake levels, that's just not an option this year.

Jason Preston has lived in Whitehouse his entire life. He stopped by today to see what's left of the lake he grew up on.  "Nobody comes out here anymore. I mean, usually, you see trucks and boats and boat trailers out here. People pulled up to the dock at the harbor, and everybody's eating, but this summer, there's nobody out here," said Preston.

Jason says he usually celebrates Labor Day with family and friends here on Lake Tyler, but this year, he says he'll head somewhere different to say "good-bye" to summer.

Lindsay Wilcox, Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com


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