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North Michigan Reservoir: All Boating and Ice Activities Suspended for 2021
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
As thoughts turn to summer fun in the Colorado mountains, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding visitors to State Forest State Park that a contractor will begin rehabilitation on the dam at North Michigan Reservoir during the month of May. The dam at the popular fishing and camping reservoir is being upgraded to improve safety for downstream properties.

The work will require water levels to be reduced beginning March 29. Due to decreased water levels, all ice activities including ice fishing will be prohibited starting on March 29. In addition, no boating will be allowed on North Michigan Reservoir in 2021. Also, campers at the North Michigan campground should be prepared for disturbances due to noisy construction equipment. Campsites immediately adjacent to the dam are closed during the work. Generators, pumps, and heavy equipment will be active during the daytime hours. Some nighttime generator noise is also a possibility during times when pumps are required to remove water from the construction area around the clock.

The 60-foot high dam at North Michigan Reservoir was originally built in 1963. The reservoir stores approximately 1,300 acre feet of water. Worsening seepage conditions on the north abutment were identified in 2015. The discovery resulted in the prioritization of repair efforts at the dam to address developing safety concerns. The planned rehabilitation includes seepage mitigation in the north abutment, removal and replacement of the spillway, and improvements to the outlet works.

Beginning Monday, March 29, the reservoir water level will be lowered significantly for construction purposes. While levels will be maintained for fishery protection, aquatic biologists will monitor the lake and determine if fish salvage methods, such as higher bag limits, are warranted in the future.

To minimize impacts to the public, Colorado Parks and Wildlife hopes to complete the work later this year, however weather or unforeseen issues could lead to work extending into 2022.

“It’s more important to get it done properly than quickly,” said Joe Brand, Park Manager at State Forest State Park. “This important project will assure that North Michigan dam will continue to safely provide water and recreation for many years to come.”

The total cost of the North Michigan Creek dam project is $7 million. The work is part of a multiphase project funded by the Colorado Lottery and Great Outdoors Colorado. GOCO invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state's parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. The GOCO board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1992, GOCO has committed more than $1.2 billion in lottery proceeds to more than 5,200 projects in all 64 counties.
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