WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Boaters at popular Brinker Lake in Waterloo will have more room to roam as officials remove a buoy line that had cut off access to a large area where a company had been mining sand and gravel.

BMC Aggregates turned over more than 50 acres of surface water on the lake at George Wyth State Park to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday, The Courier (http://bit.ly/2mBljHC ) reported.

"Basically, Brinker Lake will go from about 120 acres to approximately 180 (acres)," said Gary Dusenberry, a park ranger. "It's really nice to see the lake open up because it's been 120 acres for many, many years."

BMC Aggregates has been mining sand and gravel since 1997 from the property owned by Brinker Lake Development Inc. and the city of Waterloo. The buoys stayed in place to keep boaters away from what can be dangerous dredging equipment.

"We're moving our dredging operation to the west and north of our current plant," said Chris Dinsdale, BMG general manager. "We understand that lake area will now be used for other recreational opportunities."

The change is welcome for users of the most popular recreational boating lake in Black Hawk County, which often suffers from overcrowding.

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"Back around '99 when we had another parking lot . one day we counted 90 boats out on that lake," Dusenberry said. "I think most people understand it's a safety issue with that many boats."

Park manager Lori Eberhard said there aren't plans to increase the number of boats allowed on the lake due to the new surface water. Boaters will have more room instead.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com

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