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Reservoirs Had Busy Season

Coalville City

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck last spring, it seemed as if everything in Summit County was closed down or severely restricted.

That wasn’t the case for two of the county’s natural attractions—the Echo and Rockport Reservoirs.     The Summit County Council Wednesday heard a review of the two State Parks.

The Council members heard from Eric Bradshaw, the manager for the Echo and Rockport Reservoir Complex, who said he had never seen crowds like last summer.

He said the pandemic led to some cancellations.   The Dam Jam music event at Rockport was called off for the first time in 26 years.

After the first heavy lockdown, he said they could only admit county residents.     However, they started seeing traffic from locals who were turned away from the Jordanelle in Wasatch County, but could go to Echo and Rockport.  

“And then we opened it up to everybody, and visitation skyrocketed.    We saw at Rockport, we saw a 79 percent increase in visitation.  Echo saw a similar increase.   Pretty much every weekend we were full, and always letting so many people in and so many people out.  Even though we were really full, people were able to maintain social distancing, cause we have a lot of shoreline.  They spread out.  So it was really good.   Summer for us,  really busy.  Even with all those extra contacts, none of our staff even contracted Covid, which was good.”

An upgrade to the Echo campground was finished in mid-June, and was constantly full through the summer.       

“We got lots of positive comments.    Lot of people liked the facilities that we have there—bigger campsites to accommodate larger motor homes.  It’s becoming the norm in motor homes—just bigger, larger more room.”

State Parks took over the management of both reservoirs in 2018.    Bradshaw said the response from the locals around Coalville and Henefer has been good.         

“Most of the locals really like what we’ve done and what we’re planning on doing.  Where the previous management team, kinda more closed-circle, inner group almost, for now, it seems like more open to the public, more accessible to everybody.”

He added that the two reservoirs froze over during the holidays.  He said that Rockport has six inches of ice, and Echo has 10 to 11 inches.     He said in both areas, tent cities for ice fishing are springing up.

Bradshaw said that this spring they will begin a construction upgrade at Echo.   They will extend a boat ramp—thereby extending the boating season—will add lodging units and improve the day-use area.    The project should be done in 10 months to a year.

He said for a later phase, they plan to develop a campground at the south end of Echo—near the junction of Chalk Creek and the Weber River.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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