Recreation Area Could Generate More Than $12 Million in La Plata County
Durango, CO - Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and Congressman Scott Tipton are requesting the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) Commissioner open access to Lake Nighthorse at the earliest possible date. While the Lake Nighthorse Reservoir was completed in 2011, a recreation plan has not been agreed upon and the area has remained closed to the public. A report commissioned by the Animas La Plata Water Conservancy District found that recreation at Lake Nighthorse could stimulate upwards of $12 million in annual economic benefits for Colorado's La Plata County.
"I am pleased to see that all the partners are now on board to initiate a process that we hope will open Lake Nighthorse as soon as possible," said Durango Mayor Sweetie Marbury. "I appreciate our Congressional delegation showing leadership on behalf of Southwest Colorado to support our efforts to open Lake Nighthorse to the public. I look forward to the day when the citizens of Durango can enjoy the area for swimming, fishing, boating and other recreational uses."
In the letter to Commissioner Estevan López the lawmakers wrote:
"...we were pleased to see that, as of March 6, 2015, all members and partners of the Animas La Plata Project's Operation, Maintenance and Replacement Association have endorsed the assessment of a draft recreational plan for the lake. Given this momentum, we encourage the Bureau to expedite and prioritize its environmental analysis of the proposal, which would clear the way to open the lake to public access."
Lake Nighthorse is currently managed by a coalition of partners that helped build the original reservoir. Bennet and Tipton have been working to expedite the opening of Lake Nighthorse and have both sent letters to the BOR asking that a recreation plan be finalized.
Full text of the letter below:
Bureau of Reclamation
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington DC 20240-0001
Dear Commissioner López:
We write to request that the Bureau of Reclamation open Colorado's Lake Nighthorse to public access at the earliest practicable date. We appreciate recent opportunities to communicate with your staff in order to share updates, convey our commitment to this locally-supported project, and express our optimism that the recreation development process will make meaningful progress this year.
Following these conversations, we were pleased to see that, as of March 6, 2015, all members and partners of the Animas La Plata Project's Operation, Maintenance and Replacement Association have endorsed the assessment of a draft recreational plan for the lake.
Given this momentum, we encourage the Bureau to expedite and prioritize its environmental analysis of the proposal, which would clear the way to open the lake to public access.
We're also pleased to report that the following entities have sent letters in support of recreation at Lake Nighthorse: Southern Ute Tribe; Ute Mountain Ute Tribe; Navajo Nation; La Plata Conservancy District; Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District; San Juan Water Commission; Colorado Water Conservation Board; La Plata Archuleta Water District; Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority; and the City of Durango. Given this impressive show of support throughout the region, we urge the Bureau to redouble their efforts to analyze and adopt an agreeable plan that will open Lake Nighthorse to recreational access as soon as possible. We look forward to your response including a timeline for next steps and to the resolution of this issue.
Thank you for your continued attention and focus on this matter.