Though Gunn Park has been a staple for entertainment and activities for Fort Scott for many years, it continues to evolve in response to the needs of the community through the work of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Many citizens who frequent the park may have noticed the nearly empty 2nd lake.
According to city officials, the lake is slated to undergo improvements in the future. The improvements to be made to the lake include putting three piers out into the lake 40 feet long 20 feet wide, as well as excavating to make the lake less shallow. The lake is currently drained in preparation for the improvements that are to be done, but recent rains have made the lake bed too wet to get machinery in or out without getting mired down and possibly stuck in the mud.
According to Don George, Fisheries Biologist for the Kansas Department of Parks and Wildlife, the “grant is through Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism’s Community Fisheries Assistance Program (CFAP). Since our division ( Fisheries) is funded by licenses and funds from the sale of fishing tackle, these grant funds are really money from anglers to improve angling opportunities,” George said.
George mentioned that the lake had to be dewatered for spillway and dam repairs the city put into effect, and that the priorities for improving the lake were to “[deepen] the lake basin, construct several earthen piers, a boatramp, a parking lot [and] improve shallow and mid depth habitat.” “The old fishery was not productive and the lake will be restocked with desirable species,” George said.
When asked when the lake will reopen, George said that before that can happen, the lake will have to be rewatered and restocked, and that it would not be open to fishermen for another 2 years. “I hope to get started soon,” George said.
In addition, George answered the question many citizens may have about the disappearance of the city’s fishing permit requirement. “The CFAP project pays the City each year a dollar amount equal to what the city used to generate in fishing permit sales. Now when people want to fish in any of the water in Ft Scott all they need is a state fishing license. No more running around to find a city permit vendor, and the city does not have to enforce this action or keep track of the funds. In turn the City uses this money to buy fish food, mow grass and collect trash around the lakes, etc.”