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header image: Animas-La Plata Project


photo: Ridges Basin Dam
Ridges Basin Dam

The Animas-La Plata Project located in La Plata and Montezuma Counties in southwestern Colorado and in San Juan County in northwestern New Mexico, was authorized by the Colorado River Basin Project Act of September 30, 1968 (Public Law 84-485).In 1988, it was incorporated into the Colorado Ute Indian Water Rights Settlement Act. The Colorado Ute Settlement Act Amendments of 2000 provide for implementation and completion of the project. Approval to begin construction was granted in October 2001 and initial site work began in April 2002.

Lake Nighthorse began filling on May 4, 2009, and filled for the first time on June 29, 2011. The maximum water surface elevation of 6,882 feet equates to 123,541 acre-feet in storage. The Colorado project features were transferred from construction status to operation and maintenance status in March 2013. Work on completion of the transfer stipulations is continuing. An operation and maintenance contract has been signed with the Animas-La Plata Operations, Maintenance and Replacement Association that allows project sponsors to operate Colorado project features.

Lake Nighthorse Recreation

Reclamation's Western Colorado Area Office is working with all Animas-La Plata Project partners and stakeholders to reach consensus regarding development and management of recreation at Lake Nighthorse. To continue the environmental assessment process for recreation at Lake Nighthorse, we requested and received letters of support from all members of the Animas-La Plata Operation, Maintenance and Replacement Association. Said letters all reference support for a proposed recreation concept plan prepared by the city of Durango, available on the city's website at http://co-durango.civicplus.com/DocumentCenter/View/4358. When a draft environmental assessment is available, we will be releasing it for public review and comment.

The Western Colorado Area Office continues to work on a recreation lease and annexation agreement with the city of Durango. We are also working on a cultural resource management plan for the reservoir area in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Finally, construction plans and contracts are being prepared for the Lake Nighthorse entrance area and aquatic invasive species inspection station. Construction is anticipated to begin this summer




Last updated: March 23, 2015