U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to keep Cochiti Lake closed until mid-August, UNCLASSIFIED

By on July 26, 2011


CONTACT – Kristen Skopeck, 505-342-3171 or 508-381-2428 (cell)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to keep Cochiti Lake closed until mid-August

ALBUQUERQUE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Albuquerque District announced
today its decision to keep all Cochiti Lake Project public use sites and
recreational facilities closed until August 17, at which time the lake and
portions of the campground will likely be reopened on a limited basis.

“Cochiti Lake and Tetilla campground are immediately downhill from steep
areas burned by the Las Conchas fire and are threatened by potential large
debris flows and flooding,” said Lt. Col. Jason Williams, Albuquerque
District Commander.  “The after effects of the fire have presented us with a
rare set of circumstances that could significantly impact both public safety
and water quality in the lake.”

The fire’s intense burning created hydrophobic soil conditions in the
watershed draining to the lake, which deters the absorption of water.  The
Corps’ hydraulic engineers expect even small amounts of rain to contribute to
significant runoff and debris flows into the Rio Grande and Cochiti Lake.

The Tetilla side of the lake, including the boat ramp, campground and Santa
Cruz Road will remain closed for the remainder of the recreation season.  The
Corps will install a gate leading to the main Cochiti boat ramp before the
project reopens on Aug. 17, and the ramp will only be opened and accessible
to boater traffic during normal business hours between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  All
watercraft must be removed from the lake before 7 p.m., and no boats will be
allowed to remain on the lake overnight.  Every effort will be made to
contact boaters to warn of potential hazards.   When the lake reopens, Corps’
park rangers will make a sweep of the lake starting at 5 p.m. to remind
boaters the ramp will be closing at 7 p.m.

Furthermore, until at least August 17, the public can no longer use Cochiti
Lake as a “take-out” site for rafts, kayaks, canoes or other watercraft
coming down the Rio Grande.  Boaters should consider soil conditions in the
Jemez Mountains and White Rock Canyon of the Rio Grande are hydrophobic and
present potential for life-threatening flood events.  All members of the
pubic are encouraged to rethink entering the Rio Grande for recreational
purposes in these areas.

“We’ll continue to evaluate conditions, which are historically unprecedented,
and proceed with reopening under limitations that will help minimize risk to
the public and our staff,” Lt. Col. Williams said.

The Cochiti Project has been closed to the public since June 29, in order to
support helicopter operations and various fire suppression activities
deployed against the Las Conchas fire.

Recreation users can contact the National Recreation Reservation Service for
camping reservations at other Corps’ owned recreation sites, toll free, at
1-877-444-6777.  For more information, visit the Cochiti Lake Project
Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/usace.cochiti.lake

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