A sunny day in Lubbock will bring out the fishers, the duck feeders and anyone just wanting to enjoy the calm serenity of Lubbock's playa lakes. Part of that scenery is the rules which you'll find posted at the lakes.
Randy Truesdell is the City of Lubbock's Community Services Director. Part of his job involves working with the Parks and Recreation Department. He says the rules are for your safety. "Rules are out there for the safety of the public. Someone is out there for recreation, just trying to have a good time, which we certainly encourage but some don't realize there are some hazards and dangers."
For example, swimming is not allowed at any playa lake. "We don't allow swimming in playa lakes mainly because of safety. They weren't designed to swim in. The water is not clear. There could be obstructions underneath or steep grades and drop offs you can't see." Truesdell suggests swimming at the city pools where there are lifeguards on staff instead.
You can however use boats if you get a free boating permit from the Parks and Recreation Department. The back of the permit will tell you the rules of boating such as wearing your life preserver. "We allow canoes and kayaks. We allow rafts but not homemade rafts and those can be used at Elmore Park, Leftwhich Park and Canyon Lakes."
Electric motor boats not gas ones are allowed within the Yellowhouse Canyon Lakes System. If you don't have a boat, you can rent a canoe or paddle boat from Maxey Park and Mae Simmons Park. Canoes are $10 a day and paddle boats rent for $5 an hour.
The lakes are stocked with fish and it's legal to fish if you have a license. "The lakes are stocked with catfish, perch and carp bass. We encourage people to enjoy those lakes." But is it legal to keep the fish you catch? Truesdell says, "We prefer that you release fish for someone else to catch and for the fish to get bigger but certainly there is no requirement that would prohibit someone from keeping them."
You'll find several ducks and birds living at the playa lakes and while it's legal to feed the ducks, the city doesn't encourage it. "There's a disadvantage of feeding the ducks. They tend to get domesticated and they depend on people feeding them instead of searching for food and therefore congregate on streets and parking lots. Those are not safe conditions."
Finally, the flood drainage system has brought about new changes at the playa lakes. You'll find big drain structures near the lake shores. "We have had some folks walk out to those structures, sit on them climb on them and lay out. We prefer those not to be done." Truesdell says the structures were built for flood control and not recreation."
Violating these rules could result in fines up to $500. To get a boating permit or for other playa lake information, call Parks and Recreation at (806) 775-2687.