Vega State Park

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Vega State Park
Vega State Park.JPG
The reservoir in early spring, still partially frozen.
USA Colorado location map.svg
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Location of Vega State Park in Colorado
Location Collbran, Mesa County, Colorado, United States
Coordinates 39°13′28″N107°47′36″W / 39.22444°N 107.79333°W / 39.22444; -107.79333 Coordinates: 39°13′28″N107°47′36″W / 39.22444°N 107.79333°W / 39.22444; -107.79333
Area1,823 acres (7.38 km2) [1]
Elevation7,696 ft (2,346 m) [2]
Established1967 [1]
Visitors181,283 [1]
Governing body Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Website Vega State Park

Vega State Park is a 1,823-acre (738 ha) Colorado state park in Mesa County, Colorado in the United States. Vega Reservoir is a fishing destination and is located at an elevation of 7,696 feet (2,346 m). [3] Year-round recreational activities at Vega State Park include boating, hiking, snowmobiling and camping. [4] The park was established in 1967 in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation which was responsible for the construction of Vega Dam and Vega Reservoir. [1]

Mesa County, Colorado U.S. county in Colorado

Mesa County is one of the 64 counties of the U.S. state of Colorado. As of the 2010 census, the population was 146,723. The county seat is Grand Junction. The county was named for the many large mesas in the area, including Grand Mesa.

Boating leisure activity involving boats

Boating is the leisurely activity of travelling by boat, or the recreational use of a boat whether powerboats, sailboats, or man-powered vessels, focused on the travel itself, as well as sports activities, such as fishing or waterskiing. It is a popular activity, and there are millions of boaters worldwide.

Camping outdoor recreational activity

Camping is an outdoor activity involving overnight stays away from home in a shelter, such as a tent or a recreational vehicle. Typically participants leave developed areas to spend time outdoors in more natural ones in pursuit of activities providing them enjoyment. To be regarded as "camping" a minimum of one night is spent outdoors, distinguishing it from day-tripping, picnicking, and other similarly short-term recreational activities. Camping can be enjoyed through all four seasons.

Contents

History

The land on which Vega State Park sits was once the swampy shoreline of a vast inland sea during the Paleozoic era. The swamps were filled with sea creatures including giant sea turtles whose fossilized remains can still occasionally be found within the park. [5]

The PaleozoicEra is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon. It is the longest of the Phanerozoic eras, lasting from 541 to 251.902 million years ago, and is subdivided into six geologic periods : the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian. The Paleozoic comes after the Neoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon and is followed by the Mesozoic Era.

Sea turtle superfamily of reptiles

Sea turtles, sometimes called marine turtles, are reptiles of the order Testudines and of the suborder Cryptodira. The seven existing species of sea turtles are the green sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, Kemp's ridley sea turtle, olive ridley sea turtle, hawksbill sea turtle, flatback sea turtle, and leatherback sea turtle.

White settlers arrived in the area in 1881 after the Ute tribe Indians had been driven out of the area and onto reservations in eastern Utah. The first Europeans in the area were a pair of Spanish missionaries, Silvestre Vélez de Escalante and Francisco Atanasio Domínguez [6] who were searching for a more direct route to the missions near Monterey, California from the Spanish settlements in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The early Spanish explorers named the area Las Vegas which translates to the Meadows. [5]

Utah U.S. state in the United States

Utah is a state in the western United States. It became the 45th state admitted to the U.S. on January 4, 1896. Utah is the 13th-largest by area, 30th-most-populous, and 11th-least-densely populated of the 50 United States. Utah has a population of more than 3 million according to the Census estimate for July 1, 2016. Urban development is mostly concentrated in two areas: the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, which contains approximately 2.5 million people; and Washington County in Southern Utah, with over 160,000 residents. Utah is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast.

Silvestre Vélez de Escalante Spanish missionary

Silvestre Vélez de Escalante was a Franciscan missionary and explorer of the Southwest United States during the late 18th century. He is known for his journal, in which he described the expeditions he went on. These included a failed overland expedition in 1776.

Monterey, California City in California, United States

Monterey is a city located in Monterey County on the southern edge of Monterey Bay on California's Central Coast. Founded on June 3, 1770, it was the capital of Alta California under both Spain and Mexico. During this period, Monterey hosted California's first theater, public building, public library, publicly funded school, printing press, and newspaper. It was also originally the only port of entry for all taxable goods in California. In 1846 during the Mexican–American War, the United States flag was raised over the Customs House. After California was ceded to the U.S. after the war, Monterey hosted California's first constitutional convention in 1849.

The area became commonly known as The Meadows. Most of the area was settled by 1885 by farmers who had acquired their land through the Homestead Act. Twenty-five families lived in the valley raising dairy and beef herds of cattle. The settlement included a school, cemetery, post office and two sawmills. The settlement in the valley did not last long and the area was largely abandoned by 1936 when the school was closed. [5]

The need for water to be used in irrigating the Plateau Valley increased in the 1950s. Vega Dam and Reservoir were constructed beginning in 1957 and completed in 1962. The 925 acres (374 ha) lake [1] is filled by a canal from Park and Leon creeks and by Plateau Creek. Operation of the recreational facilities around Vega Reservoir was transferred to the state of Colorado in 1967 when Vega State Park was formally established. [5]

Canal Man-made channel for water

Canals, or navigations, are human-made channels, or artificial waterways, for water conveyance, or to service water transport vehicles. It can be thought as an artificial version of a river.

Plateau Creek (Colorado) river in the United States of America

Plateau Creek is a tributary of the Colorado River, approximately 50 miles (80 km) long, located in western Colorado in the United States. It drains a cattle ranching valley, known as Plateau Valley, north of the Grand Mesa and east of Grand Junction.

Nature

Vega State Park is a largely grassy, meadow-like area that surrounds the 925 acres (374 ha) Vega Reservoir. The land at the lake shore is a wetland. The most common mammals found at the park are mule deer, elk, and marmots. Other mammals include cottontail rabbits, ground squirrels, coyote, beaver and chipmunks. [7] The lake is home to several species of trout including rainbow, brook, cutbow and cutthroat. [7] Moose, which have been reintroduced to the area are occasionally spotted at the park, [8] as are bobcats, blue grouse, black bear and wild turkey. [8]

Wetland A land area that is permanently or seasonally saturated with water

A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail. The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil. Wetlands play a number of functions, including water purification, water storage, processing of carbon and other nutrients, stabilization of shorelines, and support of plants and animals. Wetlands are also considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal life. Whether any individual wetland performs these functions, and the degree to which it performs them, depends on characteristics of that wetland and the lands and waters near it. Methods for rapidly assessing these functions, wetland ecological health, and general wetland condition have been developed in many regions and have contributed to wetland conservation partly by raising public awareness of the functions and the ecosystem services some wetlands provide.

Mule deer deer indigenous to western North America; named for large ears resembling mule

The mule deer is a deer indigenous to western North America; it is named for its ears, which are large like those of the mule. The several subspecies include the black-tailed deer.

Elk Large antlered species of deer from North America and east Asia

The elk or wapiti is one of the largest species within the deer family, Cervidae, and one of the largest terrestrial mammals in North America and Northeast Asia. This animal should not be confused with the still larger moose to which the name "elk" applies in British English and in reference to populations in Eurasia.

The land that is uphill and away from Vega Reservoir is an aspen forest with mountain shrubland and montane meadow plants. The aspen forest supports aspen, Rocky Mountain maple, Colorado blue spruce, serviceberry, red-osier dogwood and a variety of grasses and forbes. The mountain shrubland community supports Gambel oak, snowberry, chokecherry and serviceberries. The montane meadows were once harvested by farmers for hay and grazed by cattle. The meadows support a diverse variety of native and introduced grasses including mule's ear, tufted hairgrass, lupins, reed canarygrass, water sedge, and timothy-grass. [7]

Vega State Park is on the northeastern edge of Grand Mesa, a broad, flat-topped erosional remnant. Exposed rocks on the mesa from the Cretaceous and Tertiary eras are capped with basaltic lava flows. The lava flows created a "Y" shaped outcrop with a tail to the east that suggests that the lava filled an ancient stream bed. [7] The process of erosion carved away the ancient valley walls leaving the lava flows rising above the surrounding terrains. [7]

Recreation

Vega State Park is open for year-round recreation. The visitor center is south of the dam on Vega Reservoir and features displays and exhibits that depict the human and natural history of the area. [8] The visitors center also includes a gift shop. Passes and permits required for admittance to and use of the park facilities can be purchased at the park offices. Vega State Park is home to four campgrounds. Early Settlers Campground has 33 RV sites with electrical and water hook-ups and a bathhouse with toilets and showers. Aspen Grove Campground has 27 RV sites with a centrally located water pump and rustic toilet facilities. Oak Point Campground has 39 RV sites and facilities similar to those of Aspen Grove. Pioneer Campground was 10 tent sites and five rustic cabins with a centrally located water pump and rustic toilet facilities. [9] The cabins are equipped with four bunk beds, sleeping a maximum of six visitors, a kitchen table and chairs, small refrigerator, futon sofa, microwave and propane stove. [10]

Vega State Park is open to hunting and fishing. [8] Vega Reservoir is a productive fishery with numerous species of trout. Hunting is permitted during hunting seasons that are established by the state. Archery and hunting with shotguns are permitted. Vega Reservoir is open to ice fishing during the months when the lake is frozen. [8]

The lake is open to water sports including water skiing, wind surfing, sailing and jet-skiing. There is no swimming area at the lake. Other recreational opportunities at Vega State Park include mountain biking, cross-country skiing, bird watching, picnicking and environmental education. [11]

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Vega State Park" (PDF). Colorado Parks & Wildlife. Retrieved June 13, 2013.
  2. "Vega State Recreation Area". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey. July 1, 1992. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
  3. Buchanan, Dave (June 26, 2005). "What happens at Vega, stays at Vega". The Daily Sentinel. Archived from the original on March 3, 2006. Retrieved July 5, 2009.
  4. "Vega Reservoir". Go-Colorado.com. Retrieved July 5, 2009.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "Vega State Park History". Colorado Parks & Wildlife. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  6. Katieri Treimer, Site research report, site no. 916, Southwest Colorado, Earth Metrics Inc. and SRI International for Contel Systems and the U.S. Air Force 1989
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 "Nature at Vega State Park". Colorado Parks & Wildlife. Retrieved December 30, 2009.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 "Vega State Park (brochure)" (PDF). Colorado Parks & Wildlife. Retrieved 2013-062-21.Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  9. "Camping at Vega State Park". Colorado Parks & Wildlife. Retrieved December 30, 2009.
  10. "Cabins at Vega State park". Colorado Parks & Wildlife. Retrieved December 30, 2009.
  11. "Vega Activities". Colorado State Park. Retrieved December 30, 2009.