The ever-popular swimming hole in Ash Springs has been shut down, indefinitely. The pond was officially closed as of July 6, Victoria Barr of the Caliente BLM office reported, because of safety hazards. Chains have been placed on the gate.
After noticing a child playing near a wall of rocks that looked as if they could tumble at any moment, a law enforcement officer brought it to the attention of the BLM, Barr said.
“The structural instability as well as bank erosion and undercutting has caused a concern for public safety,” said Barr.
Barr said the pool wall is made of retaining bricks that was constructed 20 years ago by BLM. Barr said visitors have taken it upon themselves to remove, replace and rearrange rocks on that wall. The retaining wall is now separating from the bank.
Barr said visitors have also constructed an additional dam, downstream, because visitors wanted a higher water level. This addition was not BLM authorized, and has caused the soil to erode quicker, which has destabilized the strength of the natural banks. There has also been undercuts made to banks, and holes on the ground lets you see into the water. This raised another concern, as the banks could collapse, resulting in injuries.
Repairs will move slowly, as there are two federally protected fish that swim the waters there, the Pahranagat roundtail chub and the White River springfish. The recent budget cuts only add to the difficulty.
The BLM will have to do consulting with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and possibly the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for repairs to take place.
The amount of time needed for repairs is uncertain at this time, but Barr thinks it could be, “weeks at this point.” She said their plan is to go through an official closure, and then start a collaborative planning process with the stakeholders and other federal agencies. “We anticipate public meetings,” she said, and when those meetings get scheduled, will be able to inform the public.
Commissioner Adam Katschke said, “We miss having it open, especially the businesses in Alamo and Pahranagat Valley.” He also said, “We’d like to see some steps taken to reopen it.”
Barr asked, “for people to cooperate with the closure to ensure public safety.”