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Fern Ridge Reservoir has five developed recreation sites. Orchard Park and Richardson Park are located on each side of the dam on Clear Lake Road. Both provide full recreation facilities during the summer months including picnic and beach areas, swimming, boat launch and moorage sites, and restrooms.
Richardson park also has a campground that provides both primitive camping and RV hookup sites. Kirk Park is located at the west end of the dam on the north side of Clear Lake Road. The Long Tom River and Kirk pond both provide easy access sites for fishing. Picnic tables are located throughout the open parklands. Perkins Peninsula Park is located on the south side of the lake on Highway 126. This park offers boat launch facilities, picnic areas, swim beach, boardwalk nature trail, and fishing access. Zumwalt Park is more of a natural setting park located along Jeans Road on Jeans Peninsula. The south portion of this park has picnic facilities and relaxing open spaces while the northern sections have woodland trails for access to the reservoir shore.
The parks are all open daily through the summer months. During winter while the reservoir is maintained at low pool, vehicle access is limited to parking areas at gates. Walking access is allowed year-round.
Fern Ridge reservoir is one of thirteen flood control reservoirs owned and administered by the U.S. Corps of Engineers in the Willamette River drainage. The reservoir was created in 1941 as a flood control and irrigation reservoir with later developments to accommodate recreation and wildlife management programs. The Army Corps of Engineers administers a total of 12,716 acres within the Fern Ridge Project.
The dam is located near the confluence of the Long Tom River and Coyote Creek. Amazon Creek flows into the lake from the east and smaller drainages such as Inman Creek and the West Fork and Middle Fork of Coyote Creek also feed into the reservoir.
During the summer months the reservoir is maintained at "full pool" with a surface area approximately 5 miles wide and 5.5 miles long covering about 9,360 acres with a shoreline length of 32 miles. During the winter months the reservoir is drawn down to a "low pool" level to serve as a flood control reservoir. Beginning in early October the water level slowly recedes to expose a wide mud flat around the perimeter of the reservoir. Water levels fluctuate considerably during the winter months base upon the intensity and duration of incoming winter rains. By early April the reservoir is filled to full pool.
Fern Ridge Reservoir is divided into nineteen separate management units (see map). Primary uses are designated for each management unit including wildlife management, low density, recreation, intensive recreation, public parks, and project operations.
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