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Durango City Council approves annexation of Lake Nighthorse

Management of motorized boating still in question
Durango City Council unanimously approved the annexation of Lake Nighthorse on Tuesday evening, a step toward opening the area April 1.

Durango City Council unanimously approved the annexation of Lake Nighthorse on Tuesday evening, a step toward opening the area April 1.

“I think it’s thrilling,” said Councilor Sweetie Marbury, who got emotional as she motioned for approval.

The annexation of 1,900 acres will go into effect two days before the area is set to open, Mayor Dick White said. The annexation must take place for the city to provide law enforcement at the lake.

The city expects to spend about $646,000 on construction at the lake, including an overflow parking lot, a trail and the chip seal of the boat-ramp road, according to city documents. A grant will cover $274,000. The Animas La Plata Operation, Maintenance and Replacement Association, which includes groups and tribes that own water in the lake, plans to contribute about $14,000 to the project. Work will start this spring, but the city does not expect construction to be complete by April 1, Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz said.

A few Trappers Crossing residents said they were concerned about the future of County Road 211, which accesses the west side of the lake. It is not open to traffic because it was used as a dumping ground for trash, such as refrigerators and mattresses, when it was open, Sherry Bowman said.

“We have a history with 211 being open and it being a problem for our neighborhood,” she said

There are no current plans to open the road.

While the deadline to open the lake is fast approaching, the city is working on a plan for managing motorized and nonmotorized boats, which has long been contentious.

Motorized boating must be allowed on the lake because of requirements attached to the grant that funded infrastructure at the lake. The Bureau of Reclamation allowed motorized boating from mid-May to mid-November, which means nonmotorized boats would have sole access for a few weeks in the spring.

Quiet-lake advocates are interested in a compromise that would preserve a quiet boating experience.

The Quiet Lake Nighthorse Coalition in June delivered about 1,200 signatures supporting a 5 mph speed limit on the lake to councilors.

In the past, the city proposed setting aside 36 percent of the lake, with large no-wake zones on the east and west sides. High-speed boating would be allowed in the center of the lake.

The city is planning two meetings next week for those interested in boating on the lake.

“We’re going to be there in good faith next week,” said Kristine Johnson of the Quiet Lake Nighthorse Coalition.

The city staff and the Bureau of Reclamation will use the input from the meetings to craft a recommendation that will be presented to the City Council on March 13, Metz said.

mshinn@durangoherald.com

If you go

An open house on the management of Lake Nighthorse will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Durango Community Recreation Center, 2700 Main Ave.

A second public workshop will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. March 1 at the Durango Community Recreation Center.

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