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Corps winter access policy

Kim Fundingsland/MDN A vehicle uses an approved access point to venture onto Lake Audubon in this 2016 photo. Fishermen should check ice frequently for thickness.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Garrison Project, announces their 2020-2021 winter access policy. This year there will be 113 entry points to Lake Sakakawea and 20 entry points to Lake Audubon. These entry points are a combination of boat ramps, shoreline access sites and freeways which are in limited development areas. A couple of these points are foot traffic only due to terrain.

Entry points, as defined in the policy, are available for the calendar year in which Lake Sakakawea and Lake Audubon freeze over until April 1 of each calendar year, or until the lake becomes ice free, whichever occurs first.

The Corps of Engineers updates and maintains an interactive web application for ice access locations. The web application displays all approved ice access locations and their status. There are two ways that users can access this data. This link can be used on any computer or smart phone, or users can download the ESRI application to an iPhone or Android phone. The ArcGIS Explorer application is free. Launch the ESRI application and search Lake Sakakawea Ice Access.

The Corps of Engineers does not encourage or recommend driving on the ice at any time. For those that do recreate on the ice, the Omaha District urges extreme caution as any winter activity performed on the ice can be hazardous. Remember, thin ice or open water can exist near springs and pressure ridges throughout the winter.

Anglers are required to only use licensed, motorized vehicles and existing authorized public roads for entering and leaving ice fishing access areas. Some public roads are often closed due to snow drifts and will not be plowed. In these instances, operating a motor vehicle off-road to obtain access is not allowed. Additionally, the public is reminded that access is for ice fishing purposes only. Restrictions are in place to prevent using the ice to cross the reservoir.

All Title 36 Federal Regulations apply to the ice fishing access sites. North Dakota Game and Fish Regulations apply to all Wildlife Management Areas located on Corps lands around the reservoir.

Please visit the Lake Sakakawea website and Facebook page for future updates regarding ice access. This includes, but is not limited to, closures and openings of access areas.

For additional information contact: The Corps of Engineers office in Riverdale (654-7411), Williston (572-6494); or the North Dakota Game & Fish office in Riverdale (654-7475), or Williston (774-4320).

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