Today, Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Mike Berry and Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Rich Storm joined Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, as well as leaders from the west Louisville community, to mark the opening of historic Shawnee Park’s newest amenity.
“The new boat ramp in Shawnee Park will provide a highly-sought-after recreational amenity in this historic Olmsted Park,” Mayor Fischer said. “I look forward to seeing it used by anglers, canoers and those looking to simply get out on the water and have some fun. Our dive and rescue teams from the Louisville Fire and Louisville Metro Police departments also believe it will greatly enhance public safety with better access to the Ohio River. I want to thank Kentucky Fish and Wildlife for their partnership on this important project.”
The new boat ramp at Shawnee Park will enhance recreational access to the Ohio River and promises to enhance tourism in the area. The West Louisville boat ramp will also offer access to some of the best fishing in the state, especially for sauger, catfish and striped bass.
“Kentucky’s immense landscape of outdoor adventure has played a huge role in our efforts to promote Kentucky as a safe travel destination with adventures for everyone to enjoy,” said Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Mike Berry. “The new boat ramp at Shawnee Park will offer long-term economic benefits to the city as well as the community of West Louisville as more visitors will travel to the area generating revenue for our economy.”
The new west Louisville boat ramp opens in time for the start of the recreational boating season in Kentucky. The boat ramp is one of more than 160 ramps statewide maintained by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, and is the second Jefferson County location for boaters to enjoy the Cannelton Pool of the Ohio River.
“This boat ramp is opening at an opportune time,” Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Rich Storm said. “Memorial Day weekend kicks off the recreational boating season, and we’re coming off of a year when many more people discovered or rediscovered their passion for boating, fishing and outdoor recreation.”
Through a collaborative effort between Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and Louisville Parks and Recreation, construction of the two-lane boat ramp and adjacent parking area started in January 2020. The project aligns with the state’s ongoing efforts to expand and enhance boating access across the commonwealth, as well as efforts of the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative.
Funding for the project was made available through Sport Fish Restoration Program grant funds. Louisville Parks and Recreation contracted with private firms on the design and construction of the access road to a parking area that services the ramp.
Kentucky tourism is an $11.8 billion industry that brings millions of visitors to the commonwealth each year. As one of the state’s largest economic impactors, tourism serves as a mechanism for driving economic growth in communities within all 120 counties.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor recreation has been a major tourism attraction and economic booster for many communities in Kentucky. Annually, fishing and boating produce more than $3 billion in total economic impact and support about 27,000 jobs in the commonwealth. In 2020, Kentucky saw a 16-percent increase in fishing licenses sold including about 80,000 new fishing licenses. Recreational boating is estimated to be enjoyed by nearly 1.2 million Kentuckians.
Today’s grand opening coincides with the kick-off of the National Safe Boating Council’s annual Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day. National Safe Boating Week takes place May 22-28. For Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers, who work to ensure waterways across the commonwealth are safe for all to enjoy, the location of the ramp will enhance their abilities and reduce on-the-water response times.
“As recreational boaters return to the water this Memorial Day, everyone can do their part to help make Kentucky’s waterways safer,” said Col. Eric Gibson, director of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s Law Enforcement Division. “Brush up on the boating laws. Take a boating safety course – available free online at fw.ky.gov. Make sure your boat is prepared. Most importantly, when you’re on the water, please wear your life jacket and don’t boat under the influence.”
For the latest Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet updates, follow the cabinet on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. To learn more about the cabinet, visit tah.ky.gov.
To learn more about fishing and boating opportunities in Kentucky, visit the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov.