(CBS4) – Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced on Thursday the closure of boat ramps at Eleven Mile Reservoir, John Martin Reservoir, and Vega State Park. The National Park Service, meanwhile, published a timeline Friday for anticipated boat ramps closures at Blue Mesa Reservoir as water is drawn from it in support of vanishing surface levels at downstream Colorado Basin reservoirs.
The state’s ramp closures at John Martin (near Las Animas) and Vega State Park (near Collbran) are due to low water levels, per CPW.READ MORE: Despite Recent Rain, Drought In Western Colorado Has Become Even Worse
The western third of the state is shown in varying stages of drought on the U.S. Drought Monitor map.
Vega State Park‘s Island Boat Ramp was closed Thursday. It was the last of the waterway’s three boat ramps to stay open.
“The reservoir will still be open to hand-launch watercraft,” stated Vega State Park Manager James Masek. “Boats requiring an Aquatic Nuisance Species inspection can have them completed at the park’s visitor center. We had hoped to keep the ramps running through Labor Day weekend but the dry conditions have made that impossible this year.”
The West Boat Ramp at John Martin is closed “because the end of the concrete boat ramp will soon be completely exposed,” CPW explained in a press release. The East Boat Ramp at John Martin is expected to remain open the remainder of the summer season.
The closure at Eleven Mile is due to a lack of staffing necessary to conduct boat inspections for nuisance species. This inspection station is located at Witcher’s Cove. The closure goes into effect at 4 p.m. Saturday.
“Guests are invited to continue to launch their boats from the north shore boat ramp,” stated Eleven Mile Park Manager Darcy Mount.READ MORE: Drawing Down The Blue Mesa To Help The Dry West
Meanwhile, a scheduled release of Blue Mesa’s water beginning in August is expected to eventually drop that reservoir’s surface level 34 feet – more than four times the reduction first cited by Bureau of Land Management authorities when they announced earlier this month that Blue Mesa would contribute some of its volume to Lake Powell’s near-critical storage.
Blue Mesa is currently 62 below “full pool,” the National Park Service stated in its press release Friday. By the end of October, after three months of contributing to Lake Powell, Blue Mesa’s level is predicted to be 96 feet below maximum.
NPS recommended that fixed keel sailboats and larger deep draft motorboats not attempt launch at any of the ramps by the end of August. In fact, all such craft should be removed from slips prior to that time.
By September 7, the Lake Fork and Iola ramps will be unusable, the park service said. Same for the Elk Creek ramp by the end of September. The Elk Creek Marina will likely be closed before the ramp.
“Bear in mind,” NPS’s press release stated, “that ramps may close earlier than these dates if need warrants. The reservoir will remain open to hand launched craft and vessels that can be launched without a ramp.”
NPS warned that the decreased water level in Blue Mesa Reservoir could combine with warm temperatures to encourage the growth of toxic algae. Motorists were also advised to take care driving or parking near softened banks or the mudline.
“If you get your vehicle stuck out there, you are responsible for your own recovery.”