ELKO, Nev. – The Zunino-Jiggs Reservoir Recreation Area, located approximately 30 miles south of Elko, is getting a facelift.
Originally constructed in 1912, the recreation area has long been a fishing and recreation destination in Elko County for the past 102 years. The rehabilitation of this recreation area was a collaborative effort between the Bureau of Land Management, Nevada Department of Wildlife, Elko County, Newmont Mining Corporation, Barrick Gold, and the Gund and Cummings Ranches.
All totaled, the cooperators provided $105,000 in funding with NDOW contributing the remaining funding, the majority of which was funded through a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Boating Access Grant Program. The grant will also help pay for design and construction of a new boat launch facility to include boat ramp, dock and additional day-use facilities. The design of the new launch facility will likely begin shortly after the dam is complete and construction is anticipated to begin sometime in 2016 or 2017.
The rehabilitation of the dam has been designed and is being constructed in full compliance with the Nevada Division of Water Resources Safety of Dams Program and the resulting structure will be much stronger and safer.
The new design and construction of the reservoir should enhance the fishery and recreational boating opportunities. However, during this construction, the BLM is asking the public to refrain from riding motorized vehicles across the construction area and once the dam is completed, to refrain from riding on or across it. The recreation area remains open during construction.
“The projected life of the project is 40 years and that will require cooperation from all users to help maintain and protect this valuable asset to Elko County,” said Zack Pratt, Outdoor Recreation Planner, Tuscarora Field Office, BLM.
“The new dam embankment will be approximately 780 feet long at the crest, with a maximum height of 15 feet measured from the reservoir floor, with a normal pool elevation of 5,612 feet,” said Teresa Jarrett, NDOW Boating Access Manager and grant writer for the project. “A normal snow pack year with spring melt-off on Cottonwood Creek of the Upper Humboldt River drainage will support and aid in building and maintaining the reservoir volume in the future.”
The recreation area is largely a day-use area frequented by anglers. According to NDOW Biologist Jeff Peterson, “In the past, rainbow trout, bluegill and largemouth bass swam in the reservoir. With the necessary repairs to the reservoir, bluegill and bass should be self-sustaining and only need to be placed in the reservoir initially. The trout will be restocked annually. It’s proven to be a pretty good fishery.”
Since 2007, the reservoir has not had water diverted into it due to the numerous structural dam issues, seepage, and lack of a conservation pool. It has only received water from incidental runoff from snow melt and rainfall. It is anticipated that with the dam rehabilitation and new boating facilities, recreation activities will increase to match those of Wild Horse and South Fork reservoirs. According to Jarrett, the primary focus of this project is to rehabilitate the dam and offer water-based recreation, and the secondary is for agricultural purposes.
“Without the support and cooperation of the current dam owner, the Gund Ranch, who owns the dam and water-rights which creates the reservoir to share with the sportsmen/women of the State of Nevada, there would be no shared recreational opportunity for the public,” added Jarrett.