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Comment period open on Beaver Creek Reservoir repair

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Colorado Parks and Wildlife will start a two-year construction project this summer to repair the dam at Beaver Creek Reservoir. The reservoir, located about 5 miles south of South Fork in the San Luis Valley, is owned by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the water is used for irrigation, fishing recreation and to maintain wildlife habitat.

If work proceeds as planned, the 4,400-acre-foot reservoir will be filled again by summer of 2015.

Problems with the 100-year-old dam structure were discovered in 2010. Since then the reservoir has been drawn down to about half of its capacity.  Because it sits high in the Rio Grande River drainage, the reservoir also plays a major role in overall water management in the San Luis Valley.

“Colorado Parks and Wildlife works closely with other water entities throughout the valley and Beaver Creek Reservoir is an important link in the overall system,” said Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager in Monte Vista.

Fishing at the popular reservoir will be allowed to continue through this year. No fish have been stocked at the reservoir since 2011; however, there are still plenty of kokanee, brown trout and rainbow trout in the reservoir. Accessing the water requires walking down the steep-sided slopes of the reservoir, so anglers are urged to be careful.

Early in 2014 the reservoir will be drained completely to accommodate construction activity.

Stocking of fish will resume in 2015. Two U.S. Forest Service campgrounds near the reservoir will also remain open during construction.

In the first phase of the project the spillway will be rebuilt. That work will start in July and should be completed by about December.

Phase two is planned to start in April 2014 and will include building a new abutment support for the dam, improvements to the outlet tunnel and a building to house equipment. That work is planned for completion by early winter 2014.

The estimated cost for the project is about $15 million.

The reservoir is located on National Forest System Lands. If anyone wants to comment on the dam repair plan, comments should be sent to: Tom Malecek, District Ranger, 13308 West U.S. 160, Del Norte, CO 81132; fax, (719) 657-6035. The office business hours for those submitting hand-delivered comments are: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Oral comments can be made via telephone during normal business hours at (719) 657-3321 or in person. Electronic comments can be submitted to comments-rocky-mountain-rio-grande-divide@fs.fed.us  or online at the project webpage, www.fs.usda.gov/projects/rio-grande/landmanagement/projects under “Comment on Project.” Comments must be submitted by March 8.

This story was posted on February 14, 2013.