File this one under “making the best of a bad situation”: Water levels at Lake Powell are at their lowest since 2005 because of a depleted snowpack, but the low water is allowing the National Park Service to improve a popular boat shortcut on the lake.
Castle Rock Cut connects the lake’s Wahweap and Warm Creek bays. The cut has been excavated several times since Lake Powell was created in the 1960s, but it’s been closed since February 2013 due to low lake levels. Without it, boaters have to go through Antelope Point Marina to get between the two bays — adding about 10 miles and an hour of travel time to each trip.
So the Park Service is excavating the cut again, and this time, it plans to remove 70,000 cubic yards of material and lower the cut by another 20 feet — allowing boats to use it when Lake Powell’s water levels go up again.
A Glen Canyon National Recreation Area spokeswoman told the Arizona Daily Sun that the work, which began January 21, will take about four months and cost $1.6 million.