Friday, February 3, 2012

A Late Winter Look at John Martin Dam

Today, 2/3/12, John Martin Reservoir holds 32,551 acre-feet of water.  This time last year the dam held around 43,000 acre-feet.

According to Karen Downey, Operations Manager at the Corps of Engineers, the Corps has completed their security fence project and has replaced valves on the pumps inside the dam.

“Going green is always considered when looking at the options we have for each project we do.” said Downey.   “The windows in the administration building were replaced by new windows that are much more efficient in conserving heat loss. Insulation was added to several of the out-buildings to help save on energy costs.”

Though this year’s funding is still unknown, Downey wants to remove some overgrown vegetation.  “On the top of my list is to rid the dam rip-rap of all the vegetation that has grown up in the past few years.”

With Water 2012 in full swing, the Corps could be a productive connection for local schools to help raise water awareness in the valley.  Many southeastern Colorado families are involved in farming and ranching and are thus tightly dependent upon water usage and availability.  Their children – and others, have an added opportunity this year to learn and grow in their understanding of the import of water on the high plains.  We are fortunate to have a local government leader willing to assist in this education process: “I'll be glad to help whenever I can. I always try to take the opportunity to work with the school systems,” Downey said in a recent interview.  If you are a teacher or educational leader in southeast Colorado, take this year’s special and unique opportunity to get involved with your school and a Water 2012 committee.  The Corps of Engineers is a pertinent, local contact to assist you with a program related to southeastern Colorado water issues.

Michael Seraphin is the media contact for DOW, (formerly Colorado Division of Wildlife) which is merging with Colorado Parks into a new agency, Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  He explained that the legislature and both of those agencies are currently still hammering out complicated financial and administrative issues; their combined direction is toward trimming the two agencies into “…a single mind.  Getting policies, finances and personnel rearranged is complicated,” he said. "Finances are a tough issue to merge due to complex agency regulations". 

Seraphin did not think this merger would affect visitor fees at John Martin, though he reiterated that the merger is still in process with many issues still undergoing legislative review.

Dwayne Nelson, biologist for the Corps, had some positive reviews with last year’s Plover management. “In 2011, we topped the last 3 to 4 years,” Nelson said.  “Between John Martin, Blue Lake and a site east of Lamar, 15 birds fledged/ left their nests.  Our habitat and management works,” Nelson said proudly. He also said the Tern population seems to be holding their numbers.

Nelson was quick to explain that “…the Tern and Plover habitat management and population productivity are a team effort of vision and sponsorship between the Corps, Parks and Wildlife and my own efforts.”

For further information on John Martin Dam: Corps of Engineers, 719.336.3476; Parks and Wildlife, 719.227.5250.


  1. Thanks for the info.
    Spring is just a breath away.

    1. Indeed! And nicely wet this year.

      Thank you for stopping by.



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