Sweetwater Lake FAQ’s
Where we are today:
Using the Sweetwater Vision Statement as a guide, the Sweetwater planning process continues. Over the last year several improvements have been made to the Sweetwater area, including a new boat dock to provide better access to the lake funded by EVLT and The Conservation Fund.
Visitors to Sweetwater lake can enjoy a number of recreational activities, including camping, hiking, horseback riding, paddling, and fishing.
Where we are going:
Using feedback from community meetings and Sweetwater Lake Feedback form, the partnership is continuing to work on developing short-term management strategies for the Lake area to allow for increased public access while protecting the site’s social, natural, cultural resource values and to prevent the site from unintentionally getting “loved to death” before a long-term strategy can be implemented. At this time, no official site plan has been approved. The plan must first go through a required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process set to occur in 2023.
As the planning process continues, the partnership will continue to gather feedback from the public and stakeholders to better understand how they can improve access, modernize facilities, and provide updated and sustainable recreational services that are appropriate to the environment and stay within the character of the area. The partnership will also continue working with the Ute Tribes on a plan that honors their historical use of the area and specifically on a management strategy for cultural resources.
Is Sweetwater a State Park?
No. The partnership is working on a long-term management plan for Sweetwater Lake and working through each agency’s authorities to determine how this will work. The long term plan remains for Sweetwater Lake to become a State Park. Once Sweetwater Lake officially becomes a State Park, CPW will manage most of the day-to-day site management with support from EVLT and the Forest Service.
How will the wildlife, cultural, natural, and social values be managed on the site?
In addition to the site’s opportunities for public recreation, the Forest Service recognizes that there are several important values that make this site special and need to be a part of future planning. The recreation planning will focus on those lands already disturbed or developed while seeking to conserve the key values at the site.
Will the public have a chance to weigh in on the planning for the lake and surrounding area? If so, how can I comment?
Yes. The public’s input is very important and will be gathered throughout the planning process. In addition to the initial series of public engagement meetings, the partnership has continued to meet with members of the Sweetwater community and surrounding towns to hear concerns and gather input on the short and long-term planning process.
An expanded stakeholder engagement process will take place in 2023 to gather further input on what amenities and recreational opportunities the public would like to experience at Sweetwater Lake. A regularly-monitored comment form is also available on EVLT’s website https://evlt.org/Sweetwater.
Finally, a formal opportunity for comment will occur as part of the required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Once the NEPA process is initiated, more information on how to comment will be made available.
Are there areas currently closed on the property?
Yes, protecting wildlife and riparian habitats along the lake’s shoreline and cliff bands are important. Ospreys, bald eagles and peregrine falcons frequently reside in the riparian and cliff habitat. People may not enter the following areas: the wetlands at the west end of the lake, the south shoreline, and upper cliff bands to protect these species habitats. Additionally, areas such as the North Overlook and Ute Cave are closed for public safety and to protect historic cultural values.
To learn more about current Sweetwater Lake recreation and regulations click here.
Will there be opportunities for continuing private/commercial operations on the site in the long-term?
The partnership will continue to rely on a private operator for many of the historic uses that were provided when the land was private through 2022. The potential for private/commercial opportunities offered on the site beyond 2022 will be evaluated and decided during the long- term planning process.
How can I stay informed on the Sweetwater planning Process?
The partners have set up a single point for public information and input on Sweetwater Lake planning that is hosted by the Eagle Valley Land Trust, at https://evlt.org/sweetwater.
Is there a conservation easement on the property?
There is not a conservation easement on the Sweetwater Lake property since it is publicly owned by the US Forest Service.