Barr Lake contains a deep history

Column by Ron Hellbusch
Posted 9/25/18

The naturalist-minded resident, be they youth or adult, are fortunate to have a variety of natural venues in a short driving distance for virtually anywhere in the Metro Denver area. This column has …

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Barr Lake contains a deep history

Posted

The naturalist-minded resident, be they youth or adult, are fortunate to have a variety of natural venues in a short driving distance for virtually anywhere in the Metro Denver area. This column has reported on the urban national wildlife refuges over the past few years. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) agency has much to offer as well in its State Wildlife Area and State Parks System. Neighboring Barr Lake State Park, near Brighton is an example.

Man’s movement into the developing Denver and South Platte River Basin resulted in the construction of Oasis Reservoir, an agricultural impoundment, in 1891. Oasis was later expanded into what we know now as Barr Lake. Over the years, the reservoir stored diverted water from the South Platte River, was abused as the storage bucket for raw sewage from the upstream rapidly expanding suburban communities and Denver itself.

Mother Nature’s massive and damaging 100 year rain storm in the spring of 1965 did Barr Lake a big favor by essentially flushing the accumulated raw sewerage from the canals that fed Barr Lake and the lake sediment itself. The lake’s value as a recreation site as well as irrigation storage resulted in agriculture interest and state officials agreeing to combine its use by creating the Barr Lake State Park in 1977.

The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and CPW have identified 370 species of birds at Barr Lake and that number as grown since the original lake was created in the late 1800s. Today one can fish, walk trails that surround the lake, participate in educational programs at the Nature Center, hunt waterfowl below the dam, volunteer with the CPW professional staff, support park as member of the Barr Lake Friends Group, observe Bald Eagle pairs during nesting or just relax absorbing the natural beauty of the lake, the water, greenery, wildlife and the bird species.

The next column will highlight a wide variety of specific activities and seasonal programs and schedules for youth, adults and families that visitors can enjoy at the Barr Lake State Park.

Outdoorsman and Westminster resident Ron Hellbusch can be reached at Ron-Hellbusch Comcast.net

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