More meetings set to discuss management of John Martin Reservoir wildlife area

PICT John Martin Reservoir Dam Overview - CPW.
Published Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host two more public meetings to discuss changes at John Martin Reservoir State Wildlife Area.

The first is scheduled 6:00 p.m., Monday, May 13, at the CPW office in Lamar, 2500 S. Main St. Enter through the south doors.

The second is set for 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 14, at the La Junta Senior Center, 114 E. 2nd St., in La Junta, 81050.

CPW manages the 19,471-acre state wildlife area  for the Corps. The SWA surrounds the reservoir west of the state park. It's a popular destination for hunting, fishing, boating, camping and wildlife viewing.


MAP John Martin State Wildlife Area
Map of John Martin Reservoir and state wildlife area. Courtesy CPW.

CPW has been working with the Corps on a new operating agreement at the SWA after its old license expired in 2018. The wildlife area will continue to operate under that agreement until a new one is in place.

As part of the licensing process, the Corps has identified areas where it wants a higher level of protection based on unique wildlife habitats or areas of cultural concern. These "Environmental Sensitive Areas" (ESA) will require CPW to more closely manage public access and impacts.


PICT John Martin Dam - CPW
John Martin Dam in Bent County, Colorado. Courtesy CPW.

In addition, the Corps wants CPW to change its management strategy in areas that receive higher-than-normal public use.

For example, the south shore is very popular for fishing, camping and other outdoor recreation. Currently, this area is managed as a "dispersed camping area" with no facilities. Under new Corps requirements, camping will be restricted to designated areas and CPW will be required to provide some basic facilities such as portable toilets and trash service.

Also, ESAs will be closed to vehicle use to protect those habitats and signs will be posted. Roads will be improved and marked for travel and two designated camping areas will be cleared of vegetation and marked for use.

"We believe the changes will better protect the resources and limit public impacts to a high use recreation area," said Travis Black, CPW's Area Wildlife Manager in Lamar. "We want to let the public know of the proposed changes to the license and assure them we will maintain public access for the intended purposes of hunting, fishing and watchable wildlife."