Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Editorials

March 9, 2012

Added attraction

Greenbo scuba diving would be a plus if fishing isn't hurt

ASHLAND — Is scuba diving in the future for Greenbo State Resort Park? Maybe but only if it can be shown that the divers will not adversely impact the fishing on Greenbo Lake. After all, the small man-made lake is one of the best fishing holes in Kentucky, making fishing the state park’s top attraction.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Kentucky General Assembly also would have to approve scuba diving in Greenbo Lake.

The proposal is to create a 10-acre section of the lake that could be used by scuba divers from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., April through October. Scuba diving at the lake was the topic of discussion at a recent public meeting at the state park, and at the conclusion of that meeting, those in attendance voted 27-5 in support of moving forward with the proposal to allow scuba diving.

Park Manager Cary Lyle said that vote is a good sign for the proposal but it still needs to get approval from Fish and Wildlife and the legislature. “It is looking very, very favorable,” he said.

However, not everyone is supportive of the idea.  James Patton, who organizes fishing tournaments at Greenbo, told those at the meeting that he thinks scuba diving would be bad for the park and bad for area businesses. While he is glad diving supporters have abandoned ideas such as sinking vehicles below the water for divers, that still is not end his opposition to diving at the lake.

The cove that park officials want to use for diving is a popular one with anglers, Patton said. “That’s where our biggest fish are caught.”

Patton said he also doubts diving will be a big money-maker for the park and suspects that creating the diving area may actually prevent some anglers from spending money there. For instance, many people like to go out fishing on the lake and then go to the lodge for a meal afterwards. They might not do so if their favorite fishing spot is off limits, Patton said.

Instead of harming the fishing at the lake, Lyle said he thinks the diving could actually have the opposite effect. Sinking structures to create underwater features for divers in the selected cove will create extra environments for fish to live and ultimately improve fishing at Greenbo, the park manager said.

L. Todd Eastham, a member of the Friends of Greenbo group and a diver himself with McCulley Eastham & Associates, Inc., said the area is ideal for beginning or intermediate divers as well as children who want to learn because of some of the shallow areas. He said he sees the potential for the plan to be beneficial for both divers and anglers who will be able to fish in the area when it is not open to divers. He mentioned, for instance, that divers would be able to retrieve lost equipment that sinks underwater for anglers.

The scuba diving proposal is just the latest of many efforts by Lyle to increase the number of visitors to Greenbo State Resort Park by adding attractions. Under his leadership, trails have been improved and added for both those on foot and those on horseback, an ampitheater has been added and now hosts plays and concerts, and the campground has been renovated.

 Promoting the state park has not always been easy. For many months a few years back the lake was little more than a giant mudhole as water levels were lowered to repair the dam and the park was without its top attraction. But under Lyle’s leadership and the addition of some creative ideas like a mystery weekend and the popular weekend for model trains, the park survived the lowering of the lake and now is thriving again.

We confess to not knowing enough about either fishing or scuba diving to know whether the two activities can co-exist in the same small body of water but, if they can, scuba diving should be added to the park’s attractions.

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