By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Recent rainfall of more than 4 inches may aid efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers to reopen the boat ramp at the South Recreation Area by the Fourth of July weekend, at Conchas Lake.
The combined rainfall from June 30 and July 1 along with runoff flowing into Conchas Lake has raised the water level by three feet, said Steve Peterson, parks manager, Army Corps of Engineers, at Conchas Lake.
Peterson said that before the rainfall on Sunday and Monday, the corps was making every effort to have the ramp open by the Fourth of July holiday weekend. He said the corps has laid a 32-foot concrete extension and is working to install a temporary ramp that would reach 80 feet into water.
Peterson said if the ramp should open, there would also be 20 nearby campsites for visitors to use.
New Mexico State Parks officials announced on June 29 that the Cove campground is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
The Cove was one of the two campgrounds that had been temporarily closed on June 6 due to the impacts of severe drought, said Jarred Langenegger, North East region manager of New Mexico Parks.
Langenegger said low water levels at Conchas Lake, the lowest since 1940, dropped the water level well below both the existing boat ramps and the boundary of Conchas Lake State Park. The campgrounds had to be closed to protect public health and safety.
Langenegger said park activities were then shifted to the North Recreation Area, which includes the North and Bell Point Campgrounds and the Conchas North Dock Concessionaire. He said that because of the lower water levels, there are currently no open boat ramps within the state park.
“Given the current drought and economic conditions, we must evaluate our park operations to ensure that we are providing quality recreational opportunities for the public,” said Tommy Mutz, Division Director for New Mexico State Parks. “Circumstances have demanded that we protect park visitors from hazards associated with the near record low water levels while also being as fiscally responsible as possible.”