COLUMBIA — The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department has opened Stephens Lake for ice skating and Cosmo-Bethel Park for ice fishing. This is the first time the ice at the parks has been thick enough since February 2007.
The parks are opened for winter activities whenever the ice thickness reaches a minimum of four inches. A sign will be posted at both locations whenever the ice is safe enough for use. The ice is not checked on weekends, holidays or evenings, however, so residents should always make sure the areas are open before going onto the ice.
Both MC Sports and Play It Again Sports have a selection of ice skates in stock. Prices start around $30 for youth sizes and $40 for adult sizes.
Residents are advised to use caution whenever going on ice, whether in the parks or elsewhere.
There is no skating allowed at Cosmo-Bethel Park and no fishing allowed at Stephens Park.
The safety guidelines for the parks are:
- Residents skate and fish at their own risk.
- Ice thickness is not consistent. Water currents, particularly around narrow spots, bridges, inlets and outlets, are always suspect for thin ice.
- New ice is usually stronger than old ice.
- Beware of ice covered with snow. Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong, but can also insulate it to keep it from freezing. Snow can also hide cracks, weakened and open ice.
- Slush is a danger sign and indicates that ice is no longer freezing from the bottom and can be weak or deteriorating.
- Never fish or skate alone.
- Children should never be allowed to fish or skate unsupervised.
- Beware of ice around partially submerged objects, such as trees, logs, brush, embankments or dam structures.
- Skating and fishing are not allowed after dark.
- Do not congregate in one area.
- Stay away from cracks, seams, pressure ridges, slushy areas and darker areas that signify thinner ice.