From Dayton Daily News featured columnis Jim Morris:

By Jim Morris, Contributing Writer 9:09 PM Saturday, January 21, 2012 

Many people ask me, How are things at Grand Lake St. Marys? Has the situation improved? 

It pleases me to tell them, Yes, the situation is much better. Its not perfect, but perhaps it never was and never will be, but for all practical purposes, Grand Lake St. Marys is back! 

At this time, there are no advisories in place that keep people out of the water or restrict activities such as boating, fishing, swimming or water skiing. It might be a bit difficult to water ski right now, since the lake is covered with ice. 

The toughest task at the lake right now is getting people coming back and thinking about spending some of their vacation or day-off dollars in Celina and St. Marys. 

Brian Miller, manager at Grand Lake St. Marys State Park, said people are coming back, but it has been a trickle. 

Hopefully as the weather warms, fish begin to bite and people look for a place to relax, their destination will once again be Ohios largest inland lake. 

To help bring that about, the state is again offering discounts at the park, a program that began last year. It includes: 

25 percent off camping; 

25 percent off Getaway rentals; 

25 percent off shelter house rental; and 

50 percent off private and state dock fees. 

The discounted fees apply until Aug. 30, with the exception of May 25-27 and June 30-July 8. 

This program has produced some good results in the past, so we felt it was important to offer it again, Miller said. 

The idea is to give people a break on these fees and hope they will come to our community to eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores, buy fuel at our gas stations and use our marinas. 

With a similar program in place last year, use of the campground was up 9 percent from 2010. Gateway (cabin) rentals in 2011 went up 46 percent over the previous year. 

They still werent up to the figures we had prior to 2010, but they are steadily improving, Miller added. 

There is no question the lake was cleaner this past summer than it was during the disastrous 2010. Yes, there were patches of algae in several places, but it wasnt the same form of blue/green algae. And it was less toxic. 

Nobody knows the reason for the improvement. It might just have been how the weather hit the region or perhaps the states efforts in spreading alum over portions of the lake, the removal of many rough fish and the stepped-up dredging program. 

Miller said the dredging goal was to remove 200,000 cubic yards of material from the lake. They finished with 272,000 cubic yards, which was about four times larger than the amount taken out of the lake during any one year before  2010.  For 2012, a new replacement dredge is due in February. Also, the EPA hopes to secure funding to apply more alum, perhaps lake-wide, by April 1. 

The second annual Carp Derby is scheduled for May, campground improvements are planned for the spring, the East Bank ramps will be revamped, more riprap is planned for the Harmons area, the Army Corps of Engineers is  planning wetland creation and expansion, and Grand Lake St. Marys is now part of a federal program that should  also bring improvements. 

Things are looking up, Miller said. We have a long way to come back, but its all going in the right direction now. 

Outdoors columnist Jim Morris can be reached through his website at or by email at