New dam construction to close Sylvan Lake State Park facilities near Eagle
August 9, 2017
EAGLE — Sylvan Lake State Park has an issue to address before it becomes a big dam problem.
The 1940s-era dam at the popular recreation location is scheduled for replacement next year. That means the lake will be drained and camping opportunities will be curtailed.
Michael Wall, supervisor at the state park, presented the closure information to the Eagle Town Board this week.
Wall noted there is no imminent danger associated with the current dam, but because it was built nearly 70 years ago it does not meet today's safety standards. The plan calls for a new structure that does and that can prevent future failures by armoring it against the possibility of a large flood.
"The existing dam is going to be basically taken out, the lake will be drained and the dam will be rebuilt with concrete," said Wall. For anyone concerned about aesthetics, Wall said the structure will be covered with soil so it will look similar to the existing dam.
Wall said the construction will also bring a new amenity to the park. "We are going to have a really cool foot traffic bridge to get to the dam. It's going to be one of the most picturesque places at Sylvan Lake," he said.
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Because of the construction activity and traffic, the Sylvan Lake reservoir area and campground will be closed next summer. The four upper cabins at the lake, the yurts, a portion of the West Brush Creek Trail, the east side of the park and the visitor center will remain open. All roads accessing the national forest will remain open.
"We are going to have lots of unhappy campers," said Wall. "We are trying to get the word out now so people can make other plans."
Wall said the construction contractor will be required to post multiple signs informing the public about the closure.
"I wouldn't want to drive a 40-foot RV up there only to find out the lake was closed," he said.
In anticipation of draining the lake, Wall said local anglers will be called on to help.
The state plans to lift bag and possession limits during a specific time frame this fall. Additionally a small concentration pool will be maintained at the site to keep fish alive next summer.
Wall said dates for the relaxed fishing rules will be announced later this fall.
Members of the Eagle Town Board asked about construction traffic and road conditions related to the work. Wall said there will be significant construction traffic through town because of the work, but the bulk of the construction will be completed in six months — from April through October. "The contractor will have to leave the road as good as, or better, than it is now," he said.