Police & Fire

Utah’s Panguitch Lake dam suffers significant damage prompting fishing, Highway 143 closures

For those heading South for spring break, be aware of Highway 143 closures due to an emergency incident following damage to the dam at Panguitch Lake.

Update as of April 22, 2024: Panguitch Lake has reopened to fishing, effective April 22. However, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office still requests that people stay away from the dam area of the lake.

Original article:

GARFIELD COUNTY, Utah — In a response to growing public safety concerns, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) announced an immediate emergency closure of fishing activities at Panguitch Lake.

This decision, made public on Wednesday, April 10, follows the discovery of significant damage to the Panguitch Lake Dam, including a transverse cracking in the upper portion of the structure.

According to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, authorities have escalated their monitoring to a Level 2 Emergency Situation due to potential risks with the dam’s integrity.

“A level 2 Emergency Situation indicates that there is a potential for dam failure. While there is no immediate threat to public safety, the situation could rapidly evolve. We are closely monitoring the dam and are prepared to escalate our response if necessary,” the statement said.

As of now, the Panguitch Sheriff’s Office has closed Highway 143 below Panguitch lake along with limiting access to the lake itself.

J. Shirley, DWR director, emphasized the urgency and necessity of the closure, stating that, “Public safety is a top priority for us, and we want to deter anglers and others from visiting the area at this time.”

The directive, which amends the regulations outlined in the 2024 Utah Fishing Guidebook, seeks to prevent anglers and visitors from accessing the lake in light of the potential risks posed by the damaged dam.

According to the statement, immediate evacuations have not been deemed necessary with the current damage, however, if the dam were to fail, the town of Panguitch would have to be evacuated, and emergency notifications would be made through all available resources.

Panguitch flood evacuation map.
Panguitch flood evacuation map. Image: Garfield County Sheriff’s Office

Visit the Garfield County website and the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page for the most up-to-date information on this situation.

While fishing at Panguitch Lake is temporarily halted, all other regulations and guidelines as established in the 2024 Utah Fishing Guidebook will continue to apply across the state’s numerous other fishing locations.

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