What's the truth about Elkhead Reservoir?

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To The Editor,

We wanted to take the time to inform the citizens of Craig and Moffat County of some rumors we have heard from some very good sources.

It has come to our attention that in order to raise the level of Elkhead Reservoir and install the net to keep the fish in the lake, as mandated by the Colorado Wildlife Commission, that the lake will need to be drained for a period of three years. And that access to Hayden from Co. Rd. No. 29 will be across the original county road that has been beneath 30 or more feet of water for nearly 30 years.

With these few thoughts in mind I think the citizens of Craig and Moffat County should take the time to consider the possibilities of such actions.

First and foremost, what will we use for water with no reservoir to fall back on if the drought years continue? Will all of us be required to let our lawns and gardens burn to a crisp? Will all the farmers and ranchers that rely on this water for irrigation be told that none is available? Will Craig Generating Station be told you must shutdown because there is no water, and if so what will the coal miners that supply it do for work?

Secondly we cannot believe that the most economical method of installing a new dam and spillway structure is to use a road that has been under 30 plus feet of water for almost 30 years. How many millions of our tax dollars will it take to make this road safe and passable for traffic only to cover it with water again in a few years? This in our opinion is a waste of time and money. And could produce an unsafe situation for all.

A third area of concern is, what will the thousands of people that use Elkhead for recreation on a year round basis, do for recreation when it is drained? Will we be required to drive hundreds of miles to use other facilities that are not as nice as Elkhead is now? This is neither energy efficient not friendly to the environment.

Another concern is what will happen to the fish in the lake when it is drained? Will they be forced to die from lack of water and food? This is not what we believe the people of this community want. Will they be released into the river so we can spend millions more tax dollars recapturing and moving them, and millions more to take care of the worthless Pike Minnow, that has a bounty on it in most western states?

We have also heard through the rumor mill that the people making the decisions about this body of water mostly live in Grand Junction and Denver and most have never visited Elkhead Reservoir. This is totally wrong; the people that live here, that use and rely on the water from this lake should be making these decisions. And these decisions should not be influenced by one cow and calf operation.

Also we have been told that the people that are making these decisions are saying that Elkhead does not have a silting problem. I invite these people to take a trip to Elkhead with us and we will show them 3 to 4 feet of dry land that used to be 6 to 10 feet of water and the main reason it should be raised. We have also heard people say that there is a noxious weed problem at Elkhead. If this is true, the Moffat County, and Colorado Extension Agencies should take steps to eliminate these weeds, that is their job.

What is the answer to all these questions? It is very simple, instead of draining Elkhead and removing the dam, an entire new spillway and dam structure must be constructed downstream of the existing one. Then when it is complete simply close the gates and allow the water to fill up over the old dam and spillway.

Thank You

Allen J. Hischke

and Dale Trite

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