Reclamation to Recreation

The Beginning of the National Recreation Area

The construction of large reservoirs filled the needs of water for farmers, and the development of cities in the west.  It also had the benefit of creating large flat water recreation opportunities. These newly created reservoirs filled a need for outdoor recreation such as boating, fishing picnicking, swimming and camping with beautiful lake views. 

In the early years once the Bureau of Reclamation had completed a project, it entered into an inter-agency agreement with either the National Park Service or the Forest Service where Reclamation would manage the water, dams and hydro-electric plants while the Park or Forest Service would manage the surrounding areas for public recreation.  This was the beginning of the National Recreation Area system.  In 1963, the President's Recreation Advisory Committee issued an Executive Branch policy that established criteria for establishing National Recreation Areas. 



USFS Arapaho National Recreation Area sign

This policy required that Congress was responsible for the establishment of National Recreation Areas.

At the end of the construction of the Colorado – Big Thompson Reclamation Project, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Reclamation entered into an interagency agreement where the Park Service managed the newly developed Shadow Mountain Recreation Area.   In 1978, Congress established the area as the Arapaho National Recreation Area (ANRA) and management was transferred from the Park Service to the Forest Service.

                                                                                                                                          A picture of a Quonset building