The District completed the installation of a fully enclosed service dock at Cochiti Lake March 2, allowing the project’s patrol boat to be on the water at all times. It is an improvement the park rangers believe will have significant public safety benefits.
Ever since the lake’s marina was removed in the late 1990s, if there was a boating emergency, the Cochiti park rangers had to go get the boat, hitch it up, take it to the lake and launch from the boat ramp, which they estimated took about 20 to 30 minutes.
“In previous recreation seasons, the boat was housed in our vehicle compound when not actively being used,” said Park Ranger Chris Schooley. “This meant response times to rescue or emergency operations on the lake could be upwards of 20 minutes. Now, if there is an issue on the lake, we can be down to the boat dock and on the water in 5 to 10 minutes.”
The composite dock on floating pontoons, which cost about $96,000, is encased in sheet metal and has a lakeside garage door. The dock was placed in the same area as the previous marina and will securely house the 22-foot Boston Whaler Guardian the rangers use to oversee lake activities and, ultimately, save lives.
Inside the dock will be a hydraulic lift that can raise the boat from the water during storms or for the winter. Inside the boat will be life-saving equipment and high-quality radios that will allow rangers to coordinate rescue activities with other agencies.
“It’s a very innovative design with few moving parts and safety in mind,” said Park Ranger Nicholas Parks. “A small electric motor pumps air into the large blue floats under the boat, raising it out of the water. The boat is lowered by simply turning a valve and re-flooding the floats. This means, in the event of a power loss and people are in danger, we can still get the boat on the water.”
“Right now, the whaler is the only boat we have,” Supervisory Park Ranger Mark Rosacker said. “However, we are in the process of purchasing a maintenance vessel to help remove runoff debris we anticipate will keep entering the lake in the wake of last year’s wildfire.”