NEW ORLEANS — Crews patched a low dam designed to help make fishing good at a popular lake complex in central Louisiana, a state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries official said Tuesday.
Spring is the busiest fishing season at lakes Larto and Sabine.
Water will rise again in the lakes and surrounding bayous in Catahoula, LaSalle and Rapides parishes once the area gets some rain, said Mike Wood, the department’s director of inland fisheries.
Keith Voorhies owns and manages Larto Cabins & RV Park LLC with his wife, Kim Voorhies. He said he’s been getting daily calls from potential customers worried about the low lakes, which were draining into the Black River through Cross Bayou Weir.
“Thank goodness it’s repaired. Now, hopefully, business is normal as usual,” he said.
Wood said it took about 1,900 tons of rock just to strengthen the dirt road to the Cross Bayou Weir enough for the heavy equipment needed to fix the break, which he says was about 75 feet long and up to 6 feet deep.
“Just to get back to there, we used 68 trailer loads of rock, at 28 tons a trailer load,” he said.
Contractors estimated that 1,500 to 2,000 tons of rock were needed to plug the gap, he said. As they put more stone into the gap, they would drive over the freshly created area to enlarge it.
“Now they’re making that structure more sound. There’s still work to do to finish to the stage that it’ll last a while,” Wood said. “They expect to be through and out of there by Friday.”
Wood said work on a more permanent solution is planned for the summer. That design is not yet finished, he said.
“I think what they’re going to do is create a sheet piling structure better able to withstand this water pressure,” Wood said. It also probably will have a more gentle slope on the back side so that when high water pours over the dam it won’t drop immediately down and erode the earth next to it, he said.
Cross Bayou Weir is one of three low-water dams reinforced with rock in the late 1980s to bring back sport fishing in and around the lakes and bayous, swamps and creeks in an 8,000-acre complex next to the 60,000-acre Dewey W. Wills Wildlife Management Area.
The state patched a blowout at the same weir after Hurricane Gustav by dropping in huge sandbags.
Voorhies said he’s glad the department plans a permanent fix.