Orleans boat ramp now duel-lane

Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Photo by Seth Boyes

Boaters may not have quite as long a wait the next time they put in at the public boat ramp near Ainsworth-Orleans Beach. Frank Rickerl, district supervisor with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said work began on improvements to the ramp last fall and finished in mid-winter.

"The boat ramp was originally a single-lane ramp, and this project increased it to a double-lane ramp," Rickerl said. "There was also a new dock purchased by some local funding that was raised by the county conservation board."

Rickerl said the small piece of state property was the first in the county to be managed by the Dickinson County Conservation Board. He pointed out the property cannot easily expand road on its south, private property to the west, Big Spirit Lake to the north and the lake's spillway on the east. Rickerl noted the local conservation board had been caring for the property for the lsat 50 years, but said the decision was made to turn its care back over to the DNR this year.

"As of Dec. 31, they decided it no longer fits their management plans, and they turned it back over to the state rather than renew it for another 25 years, but they laid all the groundwork for everything that was done up there," Rickerl said.

The ramp improvements were aided by a $10,000 donation from the Spirit Lake Protective Association as well as a $2,000 donation from the Lakes Fishing Club and a donation of approximately $7,800 from the project's contractor at Diamond Concrete, Rickerl said. Officials from several of the entities met on April 27 in recognition of the new ramp just four days ahead of the Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce's annual Walleye Weekend tournament.

Rickerl said the public likely won't notice the change in site management. He said the conservation board and the DNR largely follow the same rules, and staff at the Gull Point State Park complex on West Lake Okoboji will be in charge of the boat ramp site.

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