Echo Reservoir in Summit County chosen as Utah’s newest state park
Echo Reservoir joined the ranks of other major waters across the state that are under the management of Utah State Parks since it was chosen last week as the first new state park in more than a decade.
The Bureau of Reclamation has owned Echo Dam since it was constructed in 1968 on the 1,400-acre lake outside of Coalville. Joy Ray, a Coalville resident, later joined others in the area and took over operations for the reservoir, handling the day-to-day management for recreation.
But last year, officials with the Bureau of Reclamation approached Utah State Parks about it taking over management of the park while they were in talks with Ray about buying out her contract, according to Devan Chavez, a communications specialist with Utah State Parks. The deal was closed on Nov. 1.
Utah State Parks currently manages 11 other state parks that are owned by the Bureau of Reclamation, including the Jordanelle Reservoir, Deer Creek Reservoir and Rockport Reservoir. Echo Reservoir will be the 12th.
“We really think this will alleviate pressure from the Jordanelle and Deer Creek,” Chavez said. “Those places can get quite busy during peak season, and we hope we can make this into something that will take that pressure off and give people another place to go recreate.”
The Board of Utah State Parks and Recreation passed a resolution on Feb. 22 to adopt Echo Reservoir as the newest state park. Chavez said the board envisions managing the reservoir similarly to how it oversees the others, which offer cabins, yurts, camping, and boat and canoe rentals.
The Bureau of Reclamation and Utah State Parks are scheduled to hold a public meeting on Thursday, March 1, to meet with stakeholders and the community to better understand what they would like to see at the park regarding design and construction of new facilities. The meeting will be held at the Hailstone Event Center at Jordanelle State Park from 6 to 8 p.m.
Representatives from the Bureau of Reclamation and Utah State Parks are expected to answer questions and take public comment. An open house is expected to follow a brief presentation, according to a news release. Comments about the management of the new state park will inform the analysis and development of an upcoming environmental assessment.
“We don’t want to come in and change everything and upset everyone that has been going there for a long time,” Chavez said.
Utah State Parks traditionally charges recreaters between $8 and $15 for day use at some of the other reservoirs it manages. Chavez said that range will likely be applied to Echo Reservoir. He said the intent is to encourage those who frequent Deer Creek, Jordanelle and Rockport to visit Echo Reservoir.
Utah State Parks will create a long-term development plan for the reservoir, which will include the addition of outdoor facilities. Current facilities and the grounds are closed until spring. Anglers and visitors can currently access the reservoir through traditional access points.
State lawmakers have encouraged state park officials to explore creating new state parks, Chavez said. Little Sahara Sand Dunes, in the Sevier Desert in the central part of the state, and Hole in the Rock, in southern Utah near Escalante, were other areas that were considered.
“This isn’t something that we are surprised by, but we are actually really excited,” Chavez said. “We are really excited about this partnership, and we know what we can expect from working with the reclamation on Deer Creek, Jordanelle and Rockport. With this being the 12th, we are excited to get this underway and alleviate some of that pressure from the other reservoirs.”
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A gas leak forced the evacuation of North Summit High School and North Summit Middle School Monday afternoon in Coalville. No injuries were reported.