Area lakes expect big crowds

As many as 70,000 people are expected at Clinton and Perry lakes during this Labor Day weekend, officials estimated Thursday.

Bunnie Watkins, natural resources management specialist at Perry Lake, said between 30,000 and 40,000 three-day vacationers would be drawn to the lake northwest of Lawrence. That would be an above-average crowd, despite a below-normal water level.

“All the electric sites in campgrounds are taken,” Watkins said. “There are very few nonelectric sites left.”

At Clinton Lake, park ranger Jim Franz said attendance during the weekend could range from 25,000 to 30,000 people. That’s also slightly more than normal for Labor Day, he said.

He said numerous camping sites were available at Clinton, which is southwest of Lawrence.

One reason for the big turnout could be the weather forecast, which predicts little chance for precipitation and daytime highs in the upper 70s and low 80s.

Watkins and Franz urged visitors to be cautious when boating, skiing or swimming.

The most important piece of survival equipment on the water is a life jacket, Franz said. At the 18 lakes in Kansas and Missouri maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, seven people have lost their lives this season. Most were boaters who failed to wear a life jacket and drowned after falling overboard or trying to swim to shore.