Plans abound for Conchas Dam

By Chelle Delaney: QCS Staff

New camping and other recreation facilities are on the drawing board for the southside area of the Conchas Dam, said Gary Cordova, operations manager of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Conchas Dam Project.

“We are redeveloping the south recreation area. It was originally done in 1952, and the last update was in the 1970s. We’ve got the preliminary plans done – everything will be state of the art,” Cordova said.

When completed the overall cost of improvements will be will be about $2 million, he said.

The public is also invited to come preview the plans and offer their comments and suggestions, Cordova said.

Plans call for the existing campground to be updated with 48 camp sites, including 17 pull-through sites for large RVs. All of the sites will have water and electric hook-ups, Cordova said.

The old Juniper Campground area is designated to become the new day-use area and it will have new shelters, picnic tables and improved parking areas.

And boaters are expected to be taking advantage of a new extended boat ramp. The extension, on the middle ramp, will connect it with the low-ramp providing better access.

Other work on the southside of the recreational area includes the clean up of the maintenance yard, known as Gopher Hole, where there had been diesel and oil spills from machinery, said Steve Peterson, lead park ranger.

And historical reports are also being submitted to the state historian on old lodge, that was built sometime in the 1940s, Cordova said.

Construction on the properties is expected to take place early next year, he said. Meanwhile, some improvements have already been made, including a new comfort station at the boat ramp.

At Conchas Dam, the central and northern recreational sites are operated by the New Mexico State Parks.

The new facilities should “take a lot of the pressure off the the central and north areas and off traffic on the dam itself,” Cordova said.

Visitation at the sites was excellent during 2006 because of the consistent lake water level. “Starting on May 26,2006, the elevation of the lake was 4,175 feet and on Oct. 30,2006, it was 4,177 feet,” he said.

The preliminary plans for the Southside Recreation area are available for the public to view at the Corps of Engineers Conchas Project Visitor Center between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday. For more information, call 868-2221.