By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Recreation areas at Lower Beaver Creek Lake are receiving a facelift at the hands of Hill County and Walleyes Unlimited.
Members of the Fresno Chapter of Walleyes Unlimited and local government leaders said they want to build and upgrade camping facilities on the east side of the lake, which is located 10 miles south of Havre.
Improvements under way or planned for the near future include increasing recreational-vehicle access, road resurfacing, building fire pits and better restroom facilities, adding to the pavilion and placing bumpers on a boat access ramp.
Through a combination of donated labor and supplies, the Fresno Chapter is working with the Hill County Park Board and the county commissioners to make the area more user-friendly, said Walleyes member Michael Badgley Sr.
"We wanted to improve recreation out at the lake," he said. "One of the problems is that the terrain didn't make it easy for camping."
Crews with the Hill County Road Department have been working this week to level areas near the lake to make room for campers and RVs. A large circular area on the shore of the lake just north of the boat ramp has already been flattened, and crews are working to level ground surrounding the pavilion.
The pavilion, an open concrete and metal picnic structure, was built in 1992 in memory of Ruth Bergvall.
The leveled areas will then be covered with gravel removed from existing pits in the park, said county roads superintendent Jerry Otto.
"We're going to build designated camping areas ... and improve the main roads," he said.
Walleyes Unlimited approached the county about providing materials and labor for the project, County Commissioner Kathy Bessette said. Walleyes performed a similar function at Fresno Reservoir, she added, including installing boat ramps and a garbage bin.
Each year, the Fresno Chapter allocates money from its budget to fund projects for improving recreation areas, Badgley said. This year the group set aside about $3,000. Much of the chapter's budget is raised through its annual banquet, which was held March 22.
The county and Walleyes Unlimited share a common goal, County Commissioner Doug Kaercher said.
"Basically, it breaks down like this," he said. "The county is doing the infrastructure work, roads and access and such, and Walleyes is responsible for doing the beautification and usability."
The upgrades are part of a long-term plan the county has for the lake, Kaercher said.
"It will be done in phases, a little piece each year," he said. "We chose an area we thought would be popular for camping and fishing. ... We have been working to bring more camping areas, more trees, and more public restrooms (to the area)," he said.
Walleyes pitched in the money to buy walls for three sides of the pavilion at Lower Lake to provide shelter from the wind, Badgley said.
The fishing group will also donate labor to construct another pavilion at Fresno Reservoir, according to Mike Barthel, president of the Fresno Chapter and assistant Havre police chief.
Walleyes will also pick up the tab for garbage removal at Lower Lake, Badgley said.
The park board has arranged for Garbage Inc. to place several trash bins around the lake, Barthel said.
Kaercher said the county plans to build improved restroom facilities at Lower Lake. Now campers and others must use a single, outhouse-style restroom that has been covered with graffiti.
Hill County and Walleyes hope to bring tables and firepits to the campground sometime in the future, Badgley said.
Park Board chairman Steve Mariani and park superintendent Bernie Golie could not be reached for comment.