Green Mountain Falls Embarks on Emergency Repairs to Signature Lake

Officials Seeking Mega $100,000 Grants For Reconstruction Efforts

~ by Rick Langenberg ~

It’s been a tough, brutal week for Green Mountain Falls.

The small Ute Pass town got bombarded with its first massive shooting incident in recent years (see related story), and the town nearly lost practically all of the water located in its signature lake. What else can go wrong for the community that has had its share of infrastructure disasters in the last year?

Luckily, the collective damage didn’t impair the 81st running of their annual festival, Bronc Day.

But by the early morning of July 28, officials, including Mayor Jane Newberry, knew they had a major problem with the lake area. The problem dealt with the breaching of an aging, manmade outlet on the eastern shore. “I knew something was definitely wrong that morning,” said the mayor.

The previous morning, Newberry was one of the main leaders of the Bronc Day parade, an event graced with ideal weather. Festive spirits ran high, but the atmosphere definitely waned, following the lake breach.

Some locals and visitors, meanwhile, were just baffled by the depleting water levels and wondered if town officials had ordered a dredging of the lake. The scene definitely put a damper on the summer celebration, capped by Janet Echelman’s “1.8 Green Mountain Falls” national renowned sculpture, complete with extensive fiber net and high tech material.

Plus, the lake and Gazebo area is considered the iconic center of GMF, and a prime spot for weddings, gatherings and summer fishing. The area also will soon host a summer concert series, planned by the Pikes Peak Chamber of Commerce in August.

However, the scene has greatly improved in the last few days, but questions still remain regarding the lake’s long-time future.

An emergency repair job was implemented by local contractor Tom Hughes, with the work completed by late last week. The emergency work cost about $5,000, according to Newberry. Funding assistance occurred with the help of the Historic Green Mountain Falls group.

The mayor is confident that this will help the situation for the next four to six years. “It was very old. It was time for it to fail,” said the mayor, in describing the metal and concrete outlet that serves as a gateway for downstream flows into Fountain Creek.

But Newberry plans to seek $100,000 repair grants and funds for needed reconstruction work, including a revamping of the outlet and the lake’s eastern shore.

The recent lake failure may also bring more attention to original plans for a several hundred thousand dollar grant bid the town made previously with a variety of state and federal agencies. This ambitious bid, made several years ago, never quite materialized, but plans are still on display. The main thrust of the project hinged on making the lake a more pedestrian and fishing-friendly area, and one that would meet all guidelines of the American Disability Act.

Making the lake into the town’s central signature focus has been a goal heavily supported by town leaders. Local business leaders also support the concept..

On the upside, the sudden, forced dredging won’ t have too much of an impact on the supply of trout for local anglers.  The Colorado Parks and Wildlife stocked the lake with about 1,200 rainbow trout this year.

And unless the water temperatures exceeded the 70-degree level, wildlife officials believe they should be in good shape.

They were scheduled to examine the GMF lake situation last week. “If there’s some water coming in, I think there is a good chance the trout will survive,” said Josh Nehring, a senior aquatic biologist for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife agency, according to a report in The (Colorado Springs) Gazette. But Nehring has indicated that problems could persist if the water is far from the shoreline.