MONTE VISTA — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is draining Home Lake and making plans to improve the local fishery.
“We know this will be a disappointment for some local folks, but this will help us better utilize our water right and improve the fishery,” said Tony Aloia, a water technician for CPW in the San Luis Valley.
The lake is a popular fishing spot, but a lack of water caused a fish die-off in early April. Water was too low in early winter to utilize a floating solar-powered machine that normally can keep sections of the lake free of ice. This winter the lake froze over completely, was covered with snow and all the fish died.
No water will be diverted into the lake this spring and the ground will be allowed to dry — a process that will take all summer. After it dries, CPW will use heavy equipment to remove the fine silt sediment that has accumulated over the years which will help to make the lake deeper. Work to remove the silt will begin after it is dry, probably in October.
CPW staff will also test the sediment to determine if it could be used as a soil supplement for compost and possibly be used at farms and in gardens.
CPW usually stocks the lake with rainbow trout, catfish, bluegill and bass.
CPW will also use this time to rebuild the pump system that is used to bring water to Home Lake.
In the meantime, low water and exposed mudflats are proving to be a boom for birds. Eagles and osprey are scavenging the dead fish. Shore birds, which are migrating through the San Luis Valley now, are feeding along the edges of the water.
“It’s a good time for some bird watching at Home Lake,” Aloia said.