Things move slowly at Saylorville Lake. They always have.

Congress authorized construction in 1958 but excavation didn’t start until 1965. The lake opened in 1977 and the master plan for the use of the land surrounding it wasn’t finalized until 1984. That plan, which specifies how Saylorville’s recreational facilities are managed hasn’t been updated since.

The Army Corps of Engineers says it’s high time.

“Back then almost 30 years ago,” says lake supervisor, Jeff Rose, “the master plan was more about building recreation areas, building the Saylorville product as we see it, today.”

The new plan will focus on what is already here.

The Army Corps says most people who’ve taken the time to comment want things better, not bigger.

“They want to see things improved–modernized, Rose says, “but I think the over-arching theme is protection of our natural resources.”

When it was built, Saylorville was well outside the metro.  Now, it’s surrounded by urban sprawl. Preserving the land and the relative seclusion are priorities.

“As long as I got the fire ring,” says one camper, “that’s about all I need.”

The new plan won’t meet every concern.

It won’t address policies or usage fees. It can’t do anything about declining water quality. It won’t call for dredging Saylorville. That would cost $100 million.

“I’d like to see a restroom facility down in this loop of the campgrounds,” says camper, Kirby Jones of Des Moines.

The plan will propose improving campgrounds and trails.

“Disc golf is always fun,” says Tony Davis of Ankeny, “something for the kids, too, a little disc golf course.”

It could add new facilities like playgrounds and dump stations.  But the plan won’t be finalized this season, so don’t expect changes soon. After all, this is Saylorville, where things move slowly.

Follow the link to take part in the Saylorville Lake questionnaire.


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