Skip to content

Work to Begin on Laurel Creek Reservoir Recreation Area

By Eugenia Jones

McCreary Countians will soon be able to better enjoy a popular local fishing hole at virtually no direct cost to the County. With the County proposal for development of the 75 acre Laurel Creek Reservoir area for recreational use having cleared all hurdles, part-time Deputy Judge Executive Andrew Powell announced McCreary County’s receipt of a $75,000 federal Recreational Trails Program grant to be used to build a 65 foot bridge crossing the old dam at the reservoir, a 30 foot long fishing pier, and a 1.5 mile loop trail around a portion of the lake. The trail will be used for hiking and mountain biking. Powell emphasized the federal grant funding is specifically for the purpose of recreational trails and cannot be used for any other purpose. Construction of the swinging bridge will be bid out using funds from the grant. Volunteers and the Pine Knot Job Corps have pledged to help build and maintain the trail. At a later date, grant funding and donations may be used to add other amenities such as picnic tables, bird houses, etc. One of the primary goals of local officials has been to develop the area at little or no direct cost to residents.
Road access to the lake was recently improved through the collaborative efforts of the County Road Department and McCreary County Water District. Officials are hoping to secure a $5,000 grant to add a concrete boat ramp for launching non-motorized water craft. Powell hopes work on the project will begin in March with completion of the project by this fall.
With Laurel Creek Reservoir being the secondary, or back up, source of water for McCreary County, protection of the water throughout development and after completion of the project is the number one priority of the County and local Water District.
“Our number one concern is to protect the water,” Powell said. “There is unmanaged recreational use at the reservoir now. Development will actually provide management and more protection of the water.”
Officials see recreational development of the Reservoir area as complementing the current McCreary County Park in Whitley City where plans for construction of a lake were set aside due to the high cost of construction in an extremely environmentally sensitive area. With its baseball fields, outdoor basketball courts, splash pad, playgrounds, and gymnasium, the McCreary County Park is geared more towards children and athletics. The Reservoir project will offer a more natural setting.
“When completed, this project will provide access to the reservoir for fishing and exercise,” McCreary County Judge Executive Doug Stephens stated. “It will provide a natural water component offered by many parks. It will be geared toward those who like the outdoors and nature.”
Stephens also noted the cooperation between all agencies involved.
“It has been a slow process,” Stephens remarked. “However, it demonstrates a good show of cooperation between the federal Forest Service, local water district, and county government.”
Aside from County government, Powell is working to form a non-profit organization to help plan, promote, and maintain all of the trails (including the Laurel Creek Reservoir Project) within McCreary County. A recent request made to the McCreary County Tourism Commission on behalf of Powell asked for $500 to help cover organizational costs of the volunteer group and to purchase trail construction and maintenance equipment that can be used on the reservoir project and other trails throughout McCreary County.
Anyone interested in volunteering to help with the Laurel Creek Reservoir trail construction or in joining or donating to the trail maintenance volunteer group, can contact Powell at the McCreary County Judge Executive’s office or through Facebook.

Leave a Comment