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8:05 PM Sun, Feb. 17th

Future of Alamo Lake State Park in question

If you are one of the many Mohave County outdoor enthusiasts who like to recreate on Alamo Lake and use the facilities of Alamo Lake State Park, then you had better pay close attention.

Right now, Alamo is scheduled to close on June 3. On Jan. 15, the Arizona State Parks Board voted to close 13 state parks, while keeping nine open.

Unfortunately, Alamo wasn't one of those designated to remain open despite the fact that it is, as one person put it, "One of Arizona's best kept secrets."

The reason for the closure is money, or the lack of it, plain and simple.

Due to the fact that Gov. Brewer decided to sweep $8.6 million of parks funds in order to try and balance the state's budget, Alamo and a number of other state parks are getting the axe.

But here is something you might find interesting. According to figures supplied by Arizona State Parks, in 2009, Alamo's expenses were $365,000. The facility brought in $318,000, so they had a reported loss of about $49,000. That loss could be covered with the reduction of one or maybe two staff members. That is a much better option than closing down the facility.

By comparison, in 2009, Buckskin State Park lost $161,000, Cattail Cove lost $67,000 and Fools Hollow lost $70,000. Yet all of them are slated to stay open.

Anyone else see a problem here?

History of Alamo

Alamo Lake was authorized by Congress as part of the Flood Control Act of 1944. It is located between the Rawhide and Buckskin Mountains and is near the confluence of the Big Sandy and Santa Maria rivers. It borders Mohave County on the north and La Paz County on the south.

The stated purpose of the project was to protect the Lower Colorado River area from floods originating on the Bill Williams river drainage, which is among the largest in the West. The Bill Williams River starts below Alamo Lake and empties into Lake Havasu on the Colorado River.

The earthen dam at Alamo was completed in 1968, and floods in the late 1970s and early '80s created what has become one on the best largemouth bass fisheries in the state.

Bass anglers probably make up the majority of anglers at Alamo, and many bass clubs from Arizona and even California schedule tournaments there in the spring and summer.

Crappie mysteriously appeared in Alamo a number of years ago, and now the lake has a reputation of putting out plate-size specimens of this sought-after game fish.

Other fish that anglers may find in this pristine lake include bluegill, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department says the catfishing at this desert impoundment is definitely underutilized.

Anglers routinely catch channel catfish up to 10 pounds in this lake. But it isn't just the fishing that makes Alamo special. Waterfowl hunters tell me the duck hunting there in the winter is nothing short of phenomenal. Very few hunters and lots of duck make this lake a desired hunting area for waterfowl enthusiasts.

Other attractions

While the lake is known for the fishing, the area around the lake is a great place to hike and enjoy all that the Sonoran Desert offers. Desert flora, including wild flowers, offers hikers and visitors alike some spectacular viewing, especially after a year of rains like the area experienced this winter.

Alamo State Park offers visitors everything from dry camping to full hookups with electricity and water for the modern-day RVer. These sites have picnic tables, and some have fire rings for those who like to enjoy a fire and watch the stars after dark.

Rep. concerned

Representative Doris Goodale is another Mohave County resident who is alarmed over the proposed closing of Alamo State Park.

Goodale has been asking a lot of questions from those who might be able to keep the park open. She says she is committed to doing anything she can to make sure this pristine desert impoundment will stay open for the public.

I sent an e-mail to Jay Ziemann at Arizona State Parks asking what the latest status was on Alamo State Park.

Ziemann replied, "La Paz County, city of Wickenburg and the Arizona Game & Fish Department are all at the table negotiating a solution for Alamo Lake. The discussions to this point have been very productive."

I hope so, because to lose this jewel of the desert would be irresponsible, and even in these tough economic times, people still need a place to recreate.