Drought closes businesses, costs jobs on Cedar Creek Lake



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Posted on September 5, 2011 at 10:58 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 18 at 12:05 PM

MALAKOFF - Don's Port Marina, a staple on Cedar Creek Lake since the 1960s, has closed most of its operations and laid off two dozen workers because of the record-setting heat and low lake levels caused by the most severe drought in Texas history.


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"It's the first time we've ever had to close," said Terry Scott, the marina's owner.

"Not only have we had this unpleasant weather situation, we are all facing challenging economic times which means even more challenges for a business," read a statement on the front door of the marina. "The drought has caused business to dwindle to virtually nothing, and these factors together have finally taken their toll."

Scott said he could no longer afford to keep the marina open with the lake level down more than six feet.

"The season started well," Scott added, "but the water dropped and people can't get their boats outs."

Many private docks are no longer over the water.

The receding lake has left some boats on dry land.

For Scott's business, that means no one needs to fill up with gas, rent slips or eat at the restaurant.

He shut down most operations on August 26 but left one employee on-site to store and retrieve boats for customers.

Labor Day is traditionally the end of the summer boating season, but in previous years, Don's Port Marina remained open until mid-October.

"Even if we get significant rain," Scott continued, "this season is over."

At least two other boating businesses on Cedar Creek Lake have also closed and many worry others could as well.

"The local businesses are definitely hurting from it," explained Chuck Rollins, owner, BigCrappie.com.

If there is a silver lining to the state’s worst drought, Rollins' fishing guide service is experiencing it.

"I'm a little cautious to tell people this but the fishing is actually better with the lake being down than it is when it's full," Rollins said.

Less water for fish to swim in means they're easier to catch.

That has helped Rollins' guide service grow this year.

People who can't get their own boats out during the drought are calling him.

Rollins said this drought and receding lake levels aren't as serious as they were in 2006, when Cedar Creek Lake lost seven-and-a-half feet of water.

Scott said he hopes to re-open Don's Port Marina in the spring, but needs nature to cooperate to make it as lucrative as it for Rollins.