Lake Hanson-goers have adapted to life without access to a public boat dock for over a year, making it difficult to enjoy the recreational opportunities the lake offers.
A spring thunderstorm in Hanson County a year and a half ago carried strong wind gusts, resulting in the destruction of the public access area.
“The dock was destroyed in a nasty windstorm, because it wasn’t tied down,” said Edward Henningsen, secretary-treasurer of the Lake Hanson Association. “Huge winds came along, picked it up and destroyed it.”
However, the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks recently placed the lake’s request to install a new boat dock on a waiting list, according to Henningsen.
“We hope to get one sooner than later, but we understand the process takes a little time,” Henningsen said in an interview with The Daily Republic.
Like all public lakes in the state, the GF&P is responsible for overseeing the body of water, excluding the private properties and land surrounding the lakes. Thus, the GF&P is tasked with selecting a boat dock that will be installed at the lake. The Daily Republic reached out to the GF&P, but the entity was unable to provide information on the status and timeline of when the boat dock will be installed. The GF&P did confirm Lake Hanson is on a waiting list to have a boat dock installed.
While the boat dock underwent severe damage during the spring storm, Henningsen said the boat dock was in rough condition prior to the storm.
“It was beat up to start with, because it was used when we got it,” Henningsen said, noting the boat dock was transported from another lake. “It was usable, but it was in tough shape.”
In addition, Henningsen said the dock wasn’t properly treated by lake users and visitors who utilized the 55-acre lake.
“Some people don’t treat things too well when they come visit your local lake,” he said. “If it were properly tied down, it probably wouldn’t have been destroyed.”
Despite the loss of the boat dock, Julie Brookbank, a member of the Lake Hanson Association, said there hasn’t been a significant decline in lake users since the dock was destroyed by Mother Nature.
“The local traffic remains strong, but there’s been just a small drop in out-of-town visitors -- to my observation,” Brookbank said.
Known more for its healthy water quality and recreational opportunities, Henningsen noted the impact of losing a public access area for boaters doesn’t have the same effect on Lake Hanson that it would in towns with lakes primarily used for fishing, such as Lake Thompson.
Regardless, Henningsen said the loss of the boat dock has made life more difficult for avid lake users.
“There are a small variety of hungry fish in the lake, but it’s more of a recreational lake for swimming and such,” Henningsen said. “We are eager to get a boat dock back, but people are seeming to make due.”