Reclamation Committed to Preserving Historic Damsite and Continuing Public Access

Media Contact: Mary Carlson, (505)462-3576,

For Release: June 08, 2018

ELEPHANT BUTTE, NM – The Bureau of Reclamation is committed to ensuring that the historic damsite area at Elephant Butte Reservoir continues to be preserved and managed in a manner consistent with the public's historic preservation and public access priorities. Recent reports that Reclamation will destroy the buildings at the historic damsite area if the land is not transferred are false.

“Reclamation coordinates closely with the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Office and others to ensure that all of the historic buildings at the damsite area are preserved,” said Jennifer Faler, Reclamation’s Albuquerque Area Office Manager. “The area includes registered historic buildings that were used for housing and administration during the construction of Elephant Butte Dam in the early 1900s. Reclamation is committed to their continued maintenance in compliance with historic preservation law.”

Reclamation is currently working with partners to determine the best future for the damsite area, which is no longer needed by Reclamation for the operation of the dam. Reclamation has initiated a process with the U.S. General Services Administration, the government’s real estate management entity, to survey the property. This will allow Reclamation to have a full picture of the excess land and structures. Reclamation will then determine whether to continue with a process to transfer the land to another government entity or interested entity through a disposal process or title transfer legislation, if such legislation is proposed. The City of Elephant Butte has expressed an interest in taking over management of the damsite area.

“Regardless of the path forward, the buildings in that area are considered historic buildings and would have to be managed in coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office,” Faler said. “Reclamation is also looking for commitment from the future manager of the area that most of it, especially the historic area, access roads and land around the dam will be maintained for public access.”

Management of the recreation aspect of the damsite area was transferred back to Reclamation by New Mexico State Parks in 2015. State Parks continue to manage the recreation at the majority of Elephant Butte. Lago Rico Inc. has been managing the damsite area under agreement with Reclamation for the last couple of years.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.