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Electra Lake to open for first time since 2019

Winter’s heavy snowfall means boats will be allowed back on the water this year
Electra Lake north of Durango will reopen on June 17 for the first time since it closed at the end of the 2019 season. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

It’s no secret that the snowy winter was a boon to many – wildfire impacts are likely to be small; water is carrying boats down the Dolores River; and farmers are receiving their full water allocations.

And, despite internal projections that it would be another year, Electra Lake is slated to open for public recreation on June 17.

The lake sits behind Terminal Dam, which holds water diverted from Cascade Creek.

The lake, which is owned and operated by Xcel Energy, is generally accessible to the public under the oversight of the Electra Sporting Club. But Electra has been closed to the public since the end of the 2019 season, when it was drained to conduct maintenance work.

Work on the flume, which feeds diverted water into the lake, is a work in progress, so Cascade Creek is not being diverted.

“Our team is still working hard to replace sections of the flume this summer for partial operation next year,” said an Xcel spokesman in an email to The Durango Herald. “... We expect the project to be a multiyear project, where the flume can carry water at the end of each construction season.”

Work on the flume carrying water from Cascade Creek to Electra Lake – seen here in 2016 – is a work in progress, meaning no water is being diverted. But the lake will still open to recreation this year thanks to high runoff from surrounding watersheds. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Although Cascade Creek is not filling the lake, runoff from other drainages are, allowing it to open for the first time in three years.

“I’m excited,” said Electra Sporting Club president Cathy Craig. “It’s so great to have water back in the lake and it’s just so beautiful up there. I’m really excited that we are getting more water than we thought we would, on so many levels.”

Because of the lake’s low levels – just 23.69 feet as of Tuesday – boats will have a speed limit of 5 mph. This means no water skiing, Craig said.

The surprise water is also good news for the club’s fish stocking efforts.

The club released 5,000 trout last fall, and an additional 6,000 fish this spring in an effort to revive the imperiled population. To prevent invasive species from decimating the fishery, all watercraft will be subject to a mandatory washdown upon entering the premises.

Anyone who fishes must release fish caught and is strongly discouraged from using barbed or treble hooks.

Craig said that to her knowledge, Xcel does not plan to release any of the lake’s water to the Tacoma Hydroelectric Project, meaning the lake may stay open all summer.

“If we have a super-hot summer and the water level drops, primarily from evaporation, and it’s deemed unsafe by our staff and Xcel, then there’s a chance that we might have to close it to the public,” she said.

Craig was unsure at what level the lake could be deemed unsafe. In 2019, the lake was closed when water dropped below 20 feet.

The lake will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 17 through Labor Day. Information about entrance fees and fishing restrictions can be found on the lake’s website.


This story has been updated to correct the lake’s closing date. It will be open for recreation through Labor Day.

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