Thursday, October 29, 2015

Friends of Bluewater Lake

I attended the initial meeting of the Friends of Bluewater Lake. This was an information meeting on how to get an association started and to advocate for and raise money for the “friends” to assist the lake in developing more opportunities at the lake. Everyone interested in the Lake’s success is welcome, not just fishermen, and boaters. As I also had to attend the other meeting, I bounced back and forth between this meeting and the Cibola County Commission meeting, so I may have missed a few things, but a summary of the “equestrian” portion is below. Jackie Weeks may be able to provide more specific info on certain items if necessary.
We did get into a minor discussion of the previous exclusion of equestrian from the lake. That was a past administration, and any animosity toward equestrian was not found among the current administration. Those of you who were asked to leave in the past, let it be known that they won’t run you out again. There currently is not a camping site available for horses so don’t expect to drive in and camp at the main parking area. For safety reasons, the Park won’t let you camp there. However they are completely open to development of an equestrian friendly campsite. Equestrian are welcome to ride the park and assist in trails development as well. 

The Park personnel are also in discussions with our Zuni Mountain Trail Partnership to work on developing a trail from the south end of the park to connect into the proposed Zuni Mountain Trails in the USFS just a mile away.

Right now the biggest concern the park staff has is the interactions of the feral horses coming in from the section of Navajo Tribal land that may harass and or attack the riders and their horses. When we rode the park years ago, we never really had a problem with this, but it is still of some concern. 

When asked about the rules of Equestrian in the park. Several questions were brought up.

1.    Trish from the Bluewater Lake Lodge and horse motel (great place to go visit) had said that she had been told that a person couldn’t drive INTO the lake lands with a horse trailer and unload. They would have to ride in on the main road across a cattle guard. The park staff said that was incorrect and they would allow horse trailers into the park. (Note: The staff was unprepared for some of these questions as they weren’t aware it had been in issue in the past, so we (probably me) will have another meeting direct with the park staff to discuss locations and safety etc.

2.     Jackie asked what the restrictions on horses/equestrian use in the park was. The only significant thing was not to have the horses drink or be in the lake, but that it was mainly an “At your own risk” issue. If your horse gets bogged down in the lake, then it’s your fault not the lake’s problem. Again we may need to have some discussions on safety and use and help create a set of rules.

3.     Trail use: We discussed the trail use and the park staff indicated that the trails development would be non-motorized multi-use. And we are welcomed to assist in developing trails and providing input to the park.

So what does this all mean for us? Well, the development of a “Friends” group outside of the state financial control means that we as a group can fund the projects that are important. We as a “group” can help develop trails, the camping areas, bring in events to the park as fund raisers etc. So if you like to ride and your spouse likes to fish or hike, you can help the park develop both resources. 

We can do this in a couple of ways.

1.    We can join the “Friends of Bluewater Lake” and have direct input as the project priorities and development of equine inclusive facilities.

2.    We can assist as the Back Country Horsemen Chapter, and have indirect input and aid to developing the trails. 

3.     Or we can do a little of both. 

I’m not saying that everyone has to join either association, but if we have at least one equestrian representative in the “Friends” group working from the inside and a few working from the BCH side, we could help develop an awesome camp site and equestrian friendly facility. 

I don’t know how many of you have ever been to the El Caballo Lake State Park down in T or C, but they have an awesome campsite that is multi-use and equestrian friendly. It’s mainly used for large groups with a pavilion in the center and the campsites circling like spokes from a wagon wheel. It had water and electric hook ups at each site as well as room for the large trailers and horses. I’d love to see something like that developed at Bluewater Lake.

There will be another meeting set up in November (around the 17th or 18th) (date not set in stone yet) to organize the “Friends” association and to elect board members. It will be held they believe again at the Cibola County main office and hopefully in the large conference room as it won’t be competing for space with the commission meeting. 

More details as they come.

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