On these clear, windless autumn days Lake Nighthorse reflects the sky like a mirror.
And while news that the lake may open in the spring of 2018 is exciting, we wonder just what folks expect to see reflected on the water in Ridges Basin next year?
Will it be a working reality that lets people enjoy the lake as they hoped during all these years of waiting? We hope so, because right now Nighthorse seems like a version of a castle’s magic mirror, in which people peer and see only what they want to see.
As a vestige of an Animas La-Plata Project that continually evolved over generations, it is somehow fitting that Lake Nighthorse still has no clear recreation personality.
The line seems drawn between a full-blast motorized recreation lake, and a quiet-use paradise tucked into the foothills just a stone’s skip from town.
Motorized use is assured, because that was planned from the start. The road and the boat ramp were paid for with excise fuel taxes. The city, now in the process of annexing the reservoir, can’t bar motors from the water.
That does not deter the 1,200 signatures on a petition asking for a no-wake lake, signatures representing a point of view, many contend, that was ignored during the environmental impact stage of the project.
Bring the motors, the quiet-use crowd says. Just run them quiet and slow.
That’s asinine, counter those who like to mix horsepower with their water-based fun. There is plenty of room for all.
The answer lies, most likely, in a compromise. Can an alternating schedule be worked out, giving everyone a favorite kind of fun in the sun?
An initial city proposal explores a motorized season running from mid-May to mid-October each year, leaving shoulder seasons in spring and fall open to quiet use. It is a start, but we will not be surprised if the quiet-use crowd rejects being cut out of the warmest months of the year.
There is much work to do on the infrastructure needed at Lake Nighthorse before the gates open. And clearly more work to do on the vision.