Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

February 25, 2012

Scuba plan moves ahead

Public behind diving area at Greenbo

ARGILLITE — State officials heard feedback about the possibility of bringing a scuba diving area to Greenbo Lake during a public meeting on Thursday.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources hosted the public meeting at Greenbo State Resort Park to hear what people think about a proposal 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.

Greenup Tourism Director Bobby Allen said the public got to vote on whether or not they wanted to see the proposal moved forward or not, and it passed with a vote of 27-5.

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.

Though some anglers have objected to the plan, Lyle said he believes having the selected cove open for diving, and sinking structures to create underwater features for divers will also create extra environments for fish to live and ultimately improve fishing at Greenbo.

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.

“We’re even looking at goofy things like underwater golfing,” he said.

Eastham 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.

He said he was happy with the number of people who came out to be part of the scuba discussion and how involved they were.

“It gave me hope that solutions for Greenup County can be found in Greenup County,” Eastham said.

One of the people that came out in opposition to the plan was James Patton, who organizes fishing tournaments at Greenbo. Patton said he’s glad those who want to move forward with the plan have abandoned ideas such as sinking vehicles below the water for divers, but that he still thinks the plan is bad for the park and businesses nearby.

The cove that park officials want to use for diving is a popular one with anglers, he said.

“That’s where our biggest fish are caught,” Patton said.

He said he 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.

“I think it’s going to hurt a lot of businesses from the lake,” he said.

KATIE BRANDENBURG can be reached at kbrandenburg@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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