Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Stilling Basin, June 2009

John Martin Reservoir water levels fluctuated slightly last month. Beginning May showed over 74,000 acre-feet, mid-May came down to 71,000 and May 31st ended with 74,100. Water level on June 8 at 2:15 pm was 74,000 acre-feet, down 7,700 acre-feet from Apr. 28th.

The corps was releasing 592 cubic-feet-per-second of water into the stilling basin on June 4. May started out with 523 cfs and went as high as over 750 at mid month.

Don Headlee from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at John Martin gave three presentations of ‘Medicine on the Santa Fe Trail’ this month, one in Lamar and two at Boggsville. Headlee is known for his authentic, in-period dress/presentation as Dr. Edward Hempstead, the first doctor at Bent’s Old Fort during 1846 - 47.

The Memorial Day holiday campers used all 213 campsites at John Martin, according to Senior Ranger Heath Kehm. “There were over 250 boat inspections done…no mussels found.” The Corps, parks and DOW are working together to ensure our reservoir remains mussel-free for as long as possible. Brochures for proper personal inspection of your boats prior to launch are available at the parks office or at the DOW office in Lamar. Some of the many online sites available for mussel information include:, and Please note: all trailered boats launching into John Martin this year must undergo mandatory aquatic nuisance species inspections – and – must launch from the two boat ramps only. According to Steve Keefer from DOW, “Boats can be inspected from 6 am to 10 pm. No launching is allowed after 10 pm, unless it immediately follows an inspection. Once you are in the water, you can come out anytime.”

All three agencies at the dam are serious and determined to avoid contaminating our reservoir. It may be inevitable that the mussel problem will eventually come downstream from Pueblo reservoir. But in the interim, the longer we are mussel-free here, the higher the chance of a solution being found to eliminate the problem before they reach John Martin. It is in all our best interest to maintain high vigilance with prevention procedures at John Martin in the hope that this solution will occur - before these costly invaders sneak into our lake. Remember the three important steps to combat the mussels from attaching to your boat and transporting to other bodies of water; CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY – before entering the water and after coming out. If you boat only at John Martin, you may obtain a yellow sticker/receipt that will make your launching inspection procedures a bit simpler. For further information, signs are posted as you enter the park from the main road or contact the park at 829.1801.

The only problem at John Martin over the holiday weekend was an overturned sailboat; the occupants were rescued by a passing boater – thanks largely to the life jackets they were wearing. Other waters in our area have not been as fortunate; please be vigilant:

Ø Watch small children closely; it only takes a few minutes for a child to stray into the water.
Ø Keep in mind; life jackets float a lot longer than you do!
Ø Inappropriate alcohol consumption can be a fatal partner with any type of driving – including behind the wheel of a boat.
Ø Southeastern Colorado storms are fast and furious, sometimes becoming lethal in a matter of minutes. Be aware of the predicted weather in your area of boating; always keep an ear and eye to the sky. John Martin waters go far west of the dam - both boat ramps are at the east end.
Ø Respect the boaters around you; give them the same clearance, distance and safety margin you wish for yourself.
Ø Wind on the plains changes quickly; maintain responsible/safe fire procedures with campfires.
Ø Children wake up running; driving slowly with an extra eye around you may save a little life.

Duane Nelson, contract biologist for the corps of engineers said there are six pair of nesting Piping Plovers at John Martin; the first nest hatched June 8th. One Least Tern and one Plover nest are in the silt mitigation area. Though set up primarily as a draining area for the removed silt, a secondary result of this moist area is a safer and more reliable habitat for the endangered Plovers and Terns. “This mitigation area has the potential to be the best thing to happen to long term survival of Piping Plovers and Least Terns since the last wet cycle,” said Nelson. Please respect the closed areas for the plovers and terns through their nesting season, while visiting wildlife areas at the dam.

Keefer said the fishing at John Martin seems to be the steadiest he’s seen in awhile. Mostly boaters are catching channel cat, large mouth bass and some crappie.

Russ from Bud’s Live Bait in Hasty said, “We had some fishermen with a boat come by last Saturday that had a total between them of 56 Crappie.” He’s seen some good-sized wipers and walleye. Russ and Bud have a ‘new look’ in their shop since they remodeled, but their service and inventory are as good as ever; lots of bait and fishing tackle to suit your every whim – and every fish. Hours are 7 am to 6 pm; if the doors are closed, call the # posted for quick service. They are still ‘camera-ready’ if you want a picture of your prize catch.

Don’t forget to carry a Habitat Stamp with you when using wildlife areas around the reservoir. For information;, or speak with Keefer at 940.3586 or the DOW office in Lamar at 719.336.6600.

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