QCS Senior Writer
Visitation numbers were up for Sumner Lake and Conchas Lake, while Ute Lake and Oasis State Parks saw a decline in visitors this Labor Day weekend, compared to last year’s Labor Day period.
Sumner Lake State Park in Fort Sumner recorded 1,200 visitors over the weekend, 100 more than the previous year. Visitation at Oasis State Park near Portales was down 285 compared to last year, according to Amanda Calderon, administrative support, New Mexico State Parks Department.
Conchas Lake saw an increase of over 700 visitors this year, while Ute Lake was down nearly 2,000, according to Martin Wilhemina, North East Region II administrator for the parks department.
At Ute Lake, “we had a few incidents on the lake, nothing life-threatening though all in all it was a busy and quiet weekend,” said Rodney Paris, Ute Lake State Park manager.
Paris said the decrease of visitors at Ute Lake over the weekend wasn’t apparent. There were many day visitors and quite a few campers, he said.
Rainfall during June and July increased the elevation at both Conchas and Ute lakes. In July, Conchas Lake was at 4,180 feet above sea level, the highest it had been in nearly a decade.
Ute Lake’s elevation had risen to nearly 3,780 feet above sea level, said Rex Stall, Ute Reservoir caretaker.
Stall said the lake is 6.86 feet from its maximum storage capacity of 3,786.68 feet. He said if the lake reaches that mark this year, water will be released into the Canadian River to flow toward Texas.
Stall said the last time there was a water release from Ute Lake Reservoir into the Canadian River was Sept. 6 to Sept. 30, 2006.
On state highways, “it was a productive yet relatively quiet holiday weekend” for District 9, which includes Quay County, said Capt. Matt Broom, New Mexico State Police.
Broom said over the Labor Day weekend, officers in District 9, which also includes Curry, Roosevelt, De Baca and Guadalupe counties, issued a total of 100 traffic citations, made one felony DWI arrest near Conchas Lake, and worked two accidents, one with injuries and one without. Officers conducted a sobriety checkpoint in Clovis and ran four saturation patrols, he said.