Thursday, April 5, 2018

Grab your fishing rod | Floating dock debuts on Magnolia Lake

Guests now have a unique spot in the campground to fish, learn about nature or just take in the amazing view.

The campground’s first floating dock opened this week on Magnolia Lake behind the Nature Center.

The 10-foot by 40-foot dock extends over the lake and features slanted top rails – perfect for leaning on as you fish.

“The biggest thing is going to be the fishing. But it will also be a nice nature-watching area,” said Brandy Cloos, our Senior Master Naturalist who oversees our Nature Center. “You can see all the way down the lake.”

Perfect pairing

The dock is designed as a perfect pairing for the Nature Center, which opened along the lake behind the Meet n’ Eat last year. The center’s spot off Magnolia Lake Circle offers much more green space and a lakeside location that the Nature Center didn’t have in its previous home off Lovestone Drive.

“It’s definitely going to be useful to us,” Cloos said of the new dock. “And it will draw more people over here in general.”

Jeff Wilson, our Landscape Manager, wanted the Nature Center to make the most of its new environment and pitched the idea of the dock, which he said would complement the center.

“It just kind of goes along with it,” he said.

It also ties into Ocean Lakes efforts to improve the fishing in our lakes. Our team brought in experts to conduct an inventory of our lakes - the first in the campground's history - and recommend ways to improve.

The long-term effort, which kicked off earlier this year, includes plans to remove sediments in the lakes, install spawning areas near the bulkheads to provide places for successful reproduction and add “structure” and “cover” to the bottom of the lakes, which provide hiding places for the fish.

Some enhancements will have an immediate effect, but it will take a year or longer before guests will notice significant improvement in their catches, experts estimate.

Not just for fishing

It didn’t take long for guests to discover the dock just hours after it opened Wednesday, as our landscaping team put the finishing touches around the new feature.

“This is nice,” Tamara Gregory said while fishing from the dock with her husband, Jody Gregory.

She also pointed out the ramp that will make it easy for guests in wheelchairs to get to and use the dock. “You have some handicapped people in here so this is a nice addition,” Tamara Gregory said.

The dock also will provide a hands-on learning spot for kids visiting the Nature Center. Cloos envisions leading talks about the types of fish and other species in the lake – using a net to scoop them out for kids to see.

“You kind of can be really immersed,” Cloos said. “It will be nice for the kids to get out over the water.”

More new features coming

The dock is the most significant of several new features outside the Nature Center this year. As the center starts its second season in this spot, it’s expanding the attractions and offerings outside the building.

More bird feeders will be installed behind the center, and new display cases and a TV showing nature features are set up on the screened-in porch.

Crews also will be installing a fishing line recycling station by the dock – please deposit line there so it doesn’t end up in the lake where birds, turtles and other critters can get entangled in it.

“We are really ramping up our outdoor space,” Cloos said.

Nature Center Hours

April | 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday
May 25-Aug. 17 | 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday