The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks has closed the Old Natchez Trace Lake at Trace State Park west of Tupelo, the Daily Journal reported.

The closure is necessary to drain the lake, which has begun, so that the agency can repair damage to the dam of the 565-acre lake, state Fisheries Bureau director Larry Pugh told the newspaper.

The water level of the main lake was lowered in 2016 to begin repairs to the backside of the dam, where sections of dirt had started to slide, the Journal reported.

The newspaper reported that winter rains and the development of additional slides on the front side of the dam forced officials to begin draining the lake to prepare for more extensive repairs.

Officials said fishing is no longer permitted on the main lake, only on the small pond near the park entrance.

“We hope it will get dry enough this summer to get heavy construction equipment in there and start to work,” Pugh told the Journal. “Within the next three weeks, the engineers will get in there and start doing surveys and soil tests.”

“After that, we will have a better idea of what needs to be done and an estimate on what it will cost. Then it will go to bid and a contractor selected,” he said.

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