Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologists are concerned resource damage at a popular fishery near Laramie could jeopardize future access.
Diamond Lake Public Access Area sits about 40 miles west of Laramie and a few miles north of Interstate 80 via Cooper Cove Road. This winter, wildlife managers have seen littering, shooting debris, off-road travel and damage to resources and parking barriers.
The land and water at Diamond Lake, also known as Bosler Reservoir, are owned by Wheatland Irrigation District, and public access is allowed only through an agreement with Game and Fish.
Laramie Region fisheries biologist Chance Kirkeeng said continued future access depends on maintaining a good relationship with the district.
“It’s private land, and that’s the biggest worry,” he said. “If those folks ever got upset about what was happening out there, we could lose that fishery in the blink of an eye.”
According to fisheries supervisor Bobby Compton, Diamond Lake has historically been a very popular fishery. But in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the lake started to dry up as water was used elsewhere.
“When it all started drying up, the fishery went away,” Compton said.
In 2016, Game and Fish used funds from the Sport Fish Restoration Program to begin purchasing water from the irrigation district to fill the reservoir. The restoration program is funded through a federal tax on sporting goods, with proceeds distributed to states for use on waters that have boating access.
“It’s a pretty big part of our budget that we can use to maintain a lot of the facilities that we do have,” Compton said.
Game and Fish is planning to spend $750,000 over the next 10 years to purchase water. The agency has also spent about $400,000 on a water pipeline, boat dock, outhouse repairs and a snow fence.
The agency began stocking the reservoir with rainbow trout in 2016, adding cutthroat and brook trout in 2017.
Kirkeeng said the 284-acre lake is now about two-thirds full. Last summer, biologists found brook trout at 14 inches, cutthroat at 17 inches and rainbows at 19 inches. They plan to manage the lake for mainly cutthroats and brookies in the future.
“It’s coming back online for sure,” he said.
Compton said Diamond Lake is a beloved fishery, and now that it’s regaining its past form, visitation is increasing to the point where it sees more anglers than any other area lake.
“It was a really popular and prized fishery for a lot of people, and it was known to grow really nice fish — just a place people really loved,” he said.
Meanwhile, fisheries managers don’t want a few irresponsible visitors to put future access in doubt. In the 1980s, for example, the Wheatland Irrigation District put a stop to overnight camping at the area because of littering and other problems.
Compton described finding litter such as beer cans near the lake, as well as shooting debris such as televisions used for target practice.
The area is very windy and large snowdrifts will form during the winter. Motorists have been driving around the drifts and tearing up pasturelands in the process. Biologists have also repaired parking barriers knocked over by motorists driving down to the reservoir. Kirkeeng said the resource damage is mainly limited to winter users, such as those wanting to access the lake for ice fishing.
All the land around the lake is private, and Game and Fish wants visitors to be good neighbors.
“Be respectful and look after yourself,” Compton said.