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Reservoir reopens for first time since devastating fire
Credit: By: Anastasiya Bolton , Reporter for 9 News
Original Article at:
DOUGLAS COUNTY - Nestled in the mountains, there is a place that some call a fisherman's heaven. It has been off limits to the public for five years, but not anymore.
The Cheesman Reservoir closed its doors after the 2002 Hayman Fire. The fire was the largest in Colorado history, burning 140,000 acres and destroying 130 homes.
Cheeseman Reservoir reopened Wednesday, with many enthusiasts ready to cast their lines. The Goose Creek arm of the reservoir is once again open for fishing; a 1.5 mile stretch that is open to the public.
"It was great," said Ed Lussier, a fisherman from Denver who caught quite a haul. "Fish haven't seen anything in five years."
Todd Fenhouse from Colorado Springs was not so lucky.
"Pretty nice trout in here," he said, while unable to catch any.
It was Fenhouse's first time at the Cheesman Reservoir. He says it was also the first time he saw the damage caused by the Hayman Fire.
"Pretty heartbreaking when we're driving up there today," he said.
Denver Water's Kevin Keefe saw it firsthand.
"The fire came and essentially devastated the area," he said. "I would estimate 90 percent of tree growth here went up in flames. I can liken it to moon landscape. Everything was grey; there was no color at all."
That is why this opening day was so exciting for so many.
"This is something everybody has been anticipating for five years since the fire," Keefe said.
While the Goose Creek arm is back open, getting off the trail could be dangerous, according to officials with Denver Water Department.
"For five years, we've been really busy with restoration," said Bill Newberry, the head caretaker of Cheesman Reservoir and a Denver Water employee. "It's been work, after work, after work, trying to keep sediment out of the reservoir ever since then."
The work will continue for many years. Now, outdoor enthusiasts are asked to be a bit more careful.
"I want the fishermen to enjoy themselves and have a good time," said Keefe, "but I want them to be very cautious as well, especially in wind storms. We have seen a lot of trees go down."
After the Hayman Fire, many say Cheesman is not the same, but at least they have it back to enjoy.
You have to have a license to fish at Cheesman Reservoir. Camping, fires, boats and swimming are forbidden.