Drought forces Hillsborough County to shut down boat ramps

Boats were damaged at Edward Medard Park

HILLSBOROUGH CO., Fla. - Drought conditions in the Tampa Bay Area are causing all kinds of problems; alligators are roaming, lawns are struggling, and it's even causing dangerous boating conditions.

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Since Mother's Day, the boat ramps at Edward Medard Park near Plant City have been closed after a couple of boat trailers were damaged.

"With this being shallower people are going to have to back their trailers up further," explains Jason Chilson, the Section Manager of Hillsborough County's Conservation Lands Management department. "At the end of the ramp there's a quick drop. And that's what causes the damage on the trailers. The axles will get stuck on there."

It's not the first time the ramps have been shut down, but it comes at a critical time.

"I know it is a big impact on the fishermen out here. We have a lot of commercial fishermen that come and use the park," adds Chilson.

Most of the other boat ramps in Hillsborough County are along salt water that is affected by the tides, which changes the water levels along the ramps.

Chilson tells ABC Action News that he's hoping the area will get enough rain this weekend, when some rain is forecasted, and perhaps during the week as well, to allow the County to re-open the ramps in time for the busy Memorial Day Weekend.

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