MONTE VISTA, Colo. — The lake at San Luis State Park will not fill with water this spring because of low snowpack in the Sangre De Cristo mountain range. The decision to not fill the lake was made jointly by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, Colorado Division of Water Resources, Colorado State Parks and the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
The campground at San Luis State Park is open this summer. However, boating and water skiing won’t be available. Some fishing from the shoreline will be possible early in the season.
The lake, which is within the state park, is located in Alamosa County just west of Great Sand Dunes National Park.
The Sangre de Cristo mountains only received about 60 percent of the average snowfall last winter. Run-off from the stream that feeds the lake will probably be less than half of normal, and far below the amount needed to allow boating and water skiing.
If water was allowed to go into the lake, it is likely that all of it would be wasted through rapid evaporation, agency officials said. Instead, officials decided that the available runoff should be directed to Head Lake and the extensive wetland areas in the adjoining San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Area immediately to the north. Waterfowl and assorted bird species will benefit from the additional water.
Allowing the lake to dry this season will also help to resolve other issues. Low-water levels will reduce the over-population of carp, allowing the Division of Wildlife to stock more sport fish next year if water levels return to normal. Also, over the years, salt has built up in and around the lake from sediment run-off. When the lakebed is exposed some of the salt will be blown out by the wind, improving water and soil quality.
If snowfall is average next winter, water will be restored to the lake.
For more information about San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Area, please see:
To learn more about fishing opportunities in the San Luis Valley area, see: http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing.
To learn more about San Luis Lakes State Park and other state parks, please see: http://www.parks.state.co.us/Parks/SanLuis/Pages/SanLuisLakes.aspx.