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Heat relief limited at area reservoirs

It can be tough to make an accurate prediction based on what you feel in the air, but this weekend is one of those times you'll probably wind up right: It's going to be hot. 

That means many residents of Southern Oregon will be fleeing to the hills to seek respite in the cool relief of surrounding lakes and reservoirs — but unfortunately may find that those options are more limited than usual.

Many reservoirs are experiencing water shortages as June wraps up and temperatures creep into the triple digits in the valley on a daily basis. Following a winter that left little snowpack, facilities at several of them will be only partially open..

Hyatt Lake, east of Ashland, is down to about 30 percent of its typical water level, making boat launches a challenge, with no access from the resort. Visitors are told to launch their boats at their own risk. The lake is still a viable option for kayakers, canoers and stand-up paddleboarding. 

At nearby Howard Prairie Lake, the marina is closed and will be for the remainder of the summer. The resort is also not renting any boats for day use. The main ramp is unusable due to low water, but a gravel ramp is available to launch medium-sized boats. The south campgrounds, which were damaged by storms earlier in the year, are open again but lack water and electrical facilities.

Lake of the Woods Resort — which sits on a high mountain lake rather than a reservoir — is one of the few locations unaffected by water shortages, and it along with surrounding campgrounds are expected to be filled with visitors over the next few days.

"Everything is a go up here," said spokeswoman Lisa Branning. Lake of the Woods is off Highway 140, midway between White City and Klamath Falls.

Water is low at Lost Creek Lake, which impounds flows from the upper Rogue River, but boat docks are still accessible and the marina and Stewart State Park campground remain open for business.

The Forest Service said it anticipates an influx of people heading out to lakes and campgrounds over the weekend and will be issuing stricter restrictions on campfires. Fires will be allowed only in Forest Service-approved metal or concrete pits. Smoking areas will also be restricted. 

"There is obviously an increased risk of fire," said Chamise Kramer, a spokeswoman for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Visitors are encouraged to call ahead to check the status of the amenities at the resorts they plan to visit.  Temperatures are at expected highs of above 100 throughout the weekend.