Basalt wants Colorado Parks and Wildlife to restore leaky Lake Christine


The Basalt Town Council held a work session Tuesday night to hash out its 2020 Work Plan — projects it wants to complete or policies it wants to adopt. The goals fell into the areas of community, built environment, local economy and environment. Following are some of the highlights:

• Objective: Advance and support development that fosters social and economic vitality in Basalt’s core.

Tasks — Initiate discussions with stakeholders in Basalt Center Circle to advance an integrated plan for the revitalization and development of downtown.

Re-evaluate the town-owned affordable housing program and determine how to enhance it, including participation in regional housing solutions.

• Objective: Promote responsible, resilient development that anticipates climate change and other threats, and protects the safety and security of all town residents.

Tasks — Consult with government agencies and nonprofit to advance resiliency measures, including protection of water quality and water quantity for the town.

Pursue building code changes that require-ready solutions on new residential construction.

• Objective: Identify and implement projects that will reduce energy consumption.

Tasks — Work with experts to create baseline greenhouse emissions data that can be used to benchmark progress over time.

Begin implementation of energy-reducing measures for the town’s largest energy consuming facilities.

• Advance energy and communications solutions that better connect Basalt to markets and distinguish the town as an innovator that attracts knowledge and ideas-based profit and nonprofit organizations.

Tasks — Support local businesses by encouraging communications and broadband solutions that provide stable and higher-capacity telecommunications access that local enterprises need to growth and flourish.

Distinguish Basalt as a leader in the adoption of energy, transport and communications solutions, in part by working with organizations such as Holy Cross Energy and Rocky Mountain Institute.

Basalt officials want Colorado Parks and Wildlife to restore Lake Christine to its former grandeur as a legitimate outdoor recreation area.

The restoration of the lake and possible development of trails in the surrounding state lands emerged as one of several goals Tuesday night when the council established its 2020 Work Plan (see factbox inside).

“The council really pushed that (Tuesday) night,” Town Manager Ryan Mahoney said. “We’ve got a great opportunity.”

Lake Christine has been besieged with problems for nearly 20 years. A culvert that releases water from the lake got clogged with debris in 2000. Water overtopped the dam, damaged the structure and triggered a mudslide onto Two Rivers Road directly downhill from the lake.

From 2000 to 2007, the lake was more of a wetland. Colorado Parks and Wildlife hedged on spending the money to fix the dam but eventually undertook a $1.8 million project. The dam was shored up, a new spillway was built, the lakebed was dredged and the surface area was expanded by about an acre.

CPW showcased the restoration with a grand opening in June 2008. The lake has always been popular with anglers because it was regularly stocked with rainbow trout. It is one of the few catch-and-keep waterways in the area.

The restoration work spurred more tender loving care for Lake Christine. CPW installed interpretative signs. An Eagle Scout created a walking path and constructed a fishing pier for his Eagle project. The Roaring Fork Conservancy used the lake as an outdoor classroom for students.

The lake is about half a mile west of downtown Basalt, on the road that leads to the shooting range.

Disaster struck again in spring 2015 when mud and debris spilled onto Two Rivers Road from the saturated hillside between the road and lake. The Colorado Division of Water Resources determined the dam wasn’t leaking but water percolating through the ground when the lake reaches a certain water level affected springs in the area. It determined that the water level needed to be lowered to prevent a potential landslide. The lake has remained at a low level since.

CPW weighed “sealing up” the reservoir with an impermeable layer to prevent water from escaping, but it hasn’t taken any action.

CPW officials have been determined over the years to spend funds to keep the shooting range operating. Their enthusiasm hasn’t spilled over to the adjacent Lake Christine. In addition, CPW announced in July that it was starting a process to evaluate if additional state parks should be established.

Mahoney said Basalt officials want CPW to tap the full potential of one of its existing properties. He said town officials realize it will require a financial commitment from CPW to restore the lake. The town’s position is the agency already has spent a significant amount on Lake Christine. It might as well spend an additional amount to do the job right, Mahoney said.

Another project on the town’s 2020 Work Plan is to work with CPW and other state agencies to complete soil, groundwater and surface water testing to determine levels of lead and other pollutants from the shooting range.