Bear Creek Lake Park trails could be flooded to expand the reservoir. One group is fighting back.

Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood, which is being threatened by a proposed federal water project, may have found some government support.

On Monday, the Lakewood City Council will hear a proclamation supporting a group that is pushing for alternatives to the plan, which could radically expand the size of the reservoir there and inundate park land.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Colorado Water Conservation Board are conducting a feasibility study to determine whether to expand the reservoir’s capacity to help meet Colorado’s increasing water needs. The project could raise the water level in Bear Creek Lake up to 50 feet, which would greatly expand the surface area of the lake, wipe out up to 12 miles of trails and inundate a mile of riparian habitat upstream. Informational signs at the park say the project could “result in change to (the) character of park recreation from land-based to water-based,” meaning much more of the park would be underwater.

The park is located on land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, which dammed Bear Creek for flood control in 1977, and is leased to the city of Lakewood for recreation.

The Lakewood proclamation says the project could “dramatically alter Bear Creek Lake Park by drowning a significant portion of the current recreational and riparian areas,” and asks that project planners look for alternatives that would have “significantly reduced impacts.” It expresses unanimous support for the efforts of Save Bear Creek Lake Park, a grassroots group organized to educate the public about what could happen at the park and press for alternatives.

In an interview, city councilor Wendi Strom praised Save Bear Creek Lake Park founder Katie Gill for bringing attention to the proposed project when few in the community knew it was in the works.

“What she has done is nothing short of amazing,” Strom said. “She has been able to bring it out into the light, talk to multiple entities to find out what the impact would be, what the alternatives would be. The work she has done has made it infinitely easier for us to have a true understanding of what’s going on.”

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