RIVERDALE, N.D. - The 2014-2015 winter access policy for North Dakota including Lake Sakakawea and Lake Audubon is now available.
Jeff Keller, Natural Resource Manager at Williston, said, "Any winter activity performed on the ice can be hazardous. The Corps does not encourage or recommend driving on the ice at any time. Thin ice or open water may exist anywhere along the river or across the lake, and pressure ridges occur throughout the winter."
Keller reminded the public that access is for ice fishing purposes only. Restrictions are also in place to preclude using the ice to cross the reservoir, which has been occurring over the past few years. He said licensed, motorized vehicles must use existing authorized public roads for entering and leaving ice fishing access areas. Some public roads often drift closed with snow and will not be plowed open. In these instances, operating a motor vehicle off-road to obtain access is not allowed.
"Last week, we assisted with removing two vehicles that went through the ice," said Keller. "Fortunately, we've had no fatalities and no injuries. But, apparently people are turning to social media and daring each other to participate in what they are calling ice racing or ice driving. The other day, I was checking a USGS Gauge Station on top of the levee and while we were up there a white Honda Civic drove across the pump discharge right in front of us! It's extremely dangerous and against the law."
The following are prohibited:
- Operating motorized vehicles in a negligent manner. This includes, but is not limited to, operating the vehicle in a manner other than transportation directly to and from the lake. Driving away from the shoreline except on authorized public access roads creates unauthorized trails and adversely impacts wildlife habitat and cultural resources.
- Collecting, destroying, altering and/or removing vegetation, cultural or other natural resources. Except a natural object to mark a hole greater than 10 inches that must be visible from a minimum of 150ft required by state law.
- Unattended property (other than ice/fish houses that have the required information based on regulations from the North Dakota Game & Fish, i.e. name and address or phone number. In addition, they are required to remove fish houses from all waters by midnight March 15 and only can use fish houses after March 15, if they are removed daily, as required by state law).
Have fun this winter and be safe, Keller said. But “always know before you go,” he cautioned. He recommended to check with someone who is near the particular body of water where you are accessing. Bait shops, outfitters, game wardens, and public land managers are all valuable sources for ice condition updates, he said.
For additional information contact:
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Offices in Riverdale, N.D. (701)654-7411 or
- Williston (701) 572-6494 or
- North Dakota Game & Fish Office in Riverdale (701) 654-7475 or
- Williston (701) 774-4320.
Release no. 20150112-001