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In 1920, two ranchers completed a dam on the Cimarron River and created Eagle Nest Lake, jewel of the Moreno Valley. By 1990, the Lake’s private owners, the Davis family, wanted to sell. They had generously allowed public use of the lake, but they were ready to shed the responsibility.
Of course, they had no shortage of offers – every resort and condo developer in the region beat a path to their door – but they preferred to sell it to the state to ensure the public’s continued access.
It seemed like a good deal for everyone, but it was caught in wrangling between former Gov. Gary Johnson and the Legislature. Johnson, who otherwise condemned pork spending, supported the lake’s purchase – probably the result of his time as a ski patrolman in nearby Angel Fire. Future State Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons, then a Republican state senator, warned that the state could lose the opportunity to buy the lake.
But Senate Majority Leader Manny Aragon, thumbing his nose at Johnson and Lyons, said it was “the most ludicrous investment of limited resources that one could think of in 2002.” He subsequently rerouted the money to other water projects.
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