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Angostura Reservoir Has Best Water in Years

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HOT SPRINGS, S.D. (4/17/09) – Officials at Angostura Reservoir near Hot Springs, S.D. are expecting the reservoir to have the best water levels in years.

Willy Collignon, district supervisor at Angostura Recreation Area, said the April water level in the reservoir was already above the highest levels of 2008.  “And we haven’t had our heavy rains yet,” Collignon added. “We expect to have a very good year, and more water than in the past five or six years.”

The Black Hills is coming out of a half-decade drought. In the winter of 2008-09, several areas saw record snowfalls and precipitation. Most reservoirs, including Angostura, are on the rise.

Angostura is one of the largest lakes in the Black Hills. It covers 5,000 surface acres and has 47 miles of shoreline. The lake is also known for its broad, natural-sand beaches. Angostura Recreation Area is also is a popular destination for water lovers attracted to its fishing, boating, swimming, camping and lodging accommodations.

Collignon believes Angostura to be one of the best walleye fisheries in the state. Boating is particularly popular, and the state Game, Fish & Parks Department maintains seven boat ramps. The campground is full nearly every summer weekend, and Collignon recommends that campers get reservations.

Angostura Recreation Area is operated by the state GF&P department. The recreation area has campgrounds, cabins, bike trails, a 9-hole disc golf course, picnic shelters, hiking trails, volleyball areas, horseshoe pits and swimming beaches. There are also summer day camps and interpretive programs offered by the department.

Concessionaire Angostura Resort Management maintains a marina with three locations and 155 boat slips, a beach club, six rental lodges with an outdoor pool and a full-service, floating convenience store.

Angostura Dam was built by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1949, but planning for the project goes back nearly three decades.

Homer Derr, one-time South Dakota State Engineer, was hired by the state in 1913 to conduct a hydrographic survey of the Cheyenne River. At the time, Derr had just returned to the United States from a dam-building project in Bolivia. On the Cheyenne River project he found a gorge south of Hot Springs known as Jackson Narrows. It reminded him of a similar spot in Bolivia. He selected it as the best place to build a dam, and he named it Angostura -- Spanish for “narrows.”

Constructed as an irrigation project, Angostura’s waters irrigate 12,000 acres of corn and alfalfa in Fall River and Custer counties. But the reservoir has become an important recreation destination, one of the few bodies of water in the Black Hills where people can operate sailboats, powerboats, ski boats and other water craft.

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