Lake George Dam

Restoring 80 miles of river function

About the Project

The South Platte River forms in the grasslands of Park County, Colorado then travels through seven dams and urban areas, including Denver, before joining with the North Platte River 439 miles later in Nebraska. At the mouth of Elevenmile Canyon sits the Lake George Dam, a 25-foot-tall diversion structure built in 1952 for municipal water supply in the Pikes Peak Ranger District. Colorado Springs Utilities, which owned and operated the dam, moved their point of diversion in the early 1990s, but the obsolete dam remained in place. The dam is now owned by the United States Forest Service. Since its construction, Lake George Dam has been a barrier to aquatic species movement and has altered hydrologic processes.

The South Park Ranger district of the Pike-San Isabel National Forests and Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands (PSICC) is working with the Coalition for the Upper South Platte to remove the dam and ancillary infrastructure and restore downstream floodplain connection and function.

Elevenmile Canyon and several segments of the South Platte River downstream of the dam provide habitat for a naturally reproducing, wild trout fishery making the area a very popular destination for recreational fishing and important to the local economy. Removing the dam and restoring the area will expand fish passage within the South Platte River and its tributaries, recover overall aquatic habitat connectivity, improve wetland habitat, and improve water quality and stream health and function by promoting sediment transport and hydrogeomorphic function.

FACTS AT A GLANCE
Owner: U.S. Forest Service
Size: 85 feet long, 120 feet wide, 25 feet high
Project Cost: $3,693,933
ORF Investment: construction
Miles Opened: 80
Fish: brown trout, rainbow trout, longnose suckers, white suckers, longnose dace, and creek chub
Status: removal completed in October 2023


OUTCOMES
  • Open 45 miles of the mainstem South Platte River, and 35 miles of tributary habitat
  • Restore aquatic, wetland, and riparian habitat benefiting aquatic and terrestrial species
  • Improve water quality and stream health and function by promoting sediment transport and hydrogeomorphic function

Restore natural channel geom

  • Restore natural channel geomorphology for consistency with the upstream reach
  • Improve stream bed and bank stability
  • Improve recreational access and enhance visitor experience with recreational facilities and trail improvements
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Project Partners

Trout Unlimited

US Forest Service

Coalition for the Upper South Platte

Colorado Spring Utilities

Colorado Water Conservation Board

Colorado Parks and Wildlife