Colusa County wasn’t in the recreation business when it started offering people greater opportunities at East Park Reservoir in Ladoga to play in the great outdoors.
The reservoir has been a popular spot for camping and fishing for decades, but it wasn’t until 2013 when Colusa County took over management of the recreational side of the federal water project that people started to see a change.
“We use to come up here when I was a kid and it was just a big mud hole,” said Elly Gutierrez, one of about 30 people who attended a joint meeting of the Colusa County Board of Supervisor and city councils of Williams and Colusa. “It’s really nice up here with plenty of things to do.”
Some of the city and county officials had never been to the lake. Others had not been to the lake in a long time and never saw improvements, like the relatively new 18-hole professional disc golf course located amid rolling hills and scrub oak trees.
Completed in 1910 by the Bureau of Reclamation, as part of the Orland Project, the primary purpose of the facility is to provide irrigation water for Orland Unit Water Users’ Association, said Mike Azevedo, assistant director, Colusa County Public Works.
But the lake is also a popular place for fishing, hunting, boating, kayaking, day picnicking, and camping.
“Recreation here is an indirect economic benefit to Colusa County to the tune of $1.1 to $1.2 million in Colusa County,” Azevedo said. “That is something that we did not want to see go away from the businesses in Colusa County.”
The joint meeting of the three agencies started early Thursday at Sites Authority Office, where officials heard an update on the proposed project from manager Jim Watson.
If built, the Sites Reservoir would be the largest offstream reservoir in California, and provide economic benefits of between $248.8 and $276.2 million per year, according to a 2013 Bureau of Reclamation study.
During the five-hour outing, city of county officials enjoyed a barbecue steak lunch in an East Park campground, prepared by members of the Stonyford Buyers Group, played disc golf, took a tour of the campgrounds on the Colusa County Sheriff’s ATV, toured the
Sheriff’s mobile command center, and toured the lake on the Sheriff’s patrol boat.
About 20,000 people visit the lake and campgrounds annually.
“The whole premise of trying to keep the recreation going here is not only the indirect economic benefit but also to bring folks up here to enjoy this,” Azevedo said.
The county has received a grant from California Boating and Waterways to construct two concrete boat ramps.
There are about 183 campsites at East Park, which has both a Ladoga and Stonyford entrance to the lake. Colusa County residents are given 50 percent discount on day use and camping.
Reservations and payment can be made online at visitcolusacounty.org. ■