Everyday Should Be Earth Day at Sloan’s Lake

By Frankie Randall, 6th grade student at GALS, and Jamie Cato

Frankie Randall and Eli Secrist hold pieces of the sporting clays found in the water. Photo by Jamie Cato

Did you know that Sloan’s Lake used to be quite deep and is now only about 3 feet? This beautiful Denver lake is used daily by many people, yet most have no idea the trouble it’s in.

Luckily, the Sloan’s Lake Park Foundation (SLPF) is actively trying to save the lake. On April 28, SLPF hosted an Earth Day event on the north side of the lake. The day began with a park clean-up, followed by an educational walk, and then ended with author David Forsyth talking about his latest book, “The Amusement Park at Sloan’s Lake.”

The clean-up took place at 11 a.m. and was super successful; 20 volunteers showed up to help. When asked why he decided to participate in the clean-up, local kid Eli Secrist said, “If we keep littering it will turn into a litter lake.” The group collected many bags of trash, showing that even a small group can make a big difference. 

The education walk took place at 12:30 p.m. Kurt Weaver, executive director of SLPF, gave an overview of SLPF’s mission and described how the lake was formed back in 1861, when farmer Thomas Sloan was digging a well. The story goes that Sloan hit an aquifer, and by the next day a large lake had formed on his farm. Today the lake is 177 acres in size and the park is 290 acres. 

The next stop on the northeastern side of the lake entailed a discussion about the old gun club and how there are still many remnants of black sporting clays along the lake’s shore. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only pollution in the lake. Over the last century, sediment has eroded into the lake making it dangerously shallow, which is not good for wildlife and their habitat. When Weaver was asked about what will happen if the lake stays in its current condition, he responded, “It will continue to get warmer, and warm water means things can’t live in it.” 

Weaver noted that to be a healthy lake, it needs to be swimmable and fishable. Weaver talked about short-term solutions for lake improvement, including planting native grasses and putting floating plant islands into the lake.

The third stop on the walk was the large forebay located on the north side by the pelican head fountain. Weaver informed participants about the benefits of a forebay, and the history and future plans for the boat house. He also discussed the widely popular Dragon Boat Festival that occurs at the lake every summer. 

Local resident Deb Neeley, co-president of Sloan’s Lake Citizen Group, commented that she learned a lot about the current mitigation and processes working to keep the lake clean. 

Author David Forsyth discusses his book “The Amusement Park at Sloan’s Lake” and the lake’s rich history. Photo by Jamie Cato

The last stop of the walk included a fascinating talk by author David Forsyth on the amusement park called Manhattan Beach that was located west of the current boat house. This huge attraction was located there from the early 1890s to 1914 and included a rollercoaster, theater, zoo, swimming beach and many other sensational spectacles. 

The Earth Day event was a wonderful opportunity for folks to enjoy a beautiful day cleaning up their beloved lake while also learning about its current environmental issues and possible solutions. 

While it’s great that a few smaller projects are being planned to help the lake, the only real long-term solution to make the lake healthy again is to dredge it. 

If Denver and the surrounding communities work together, Sloan’s Lake can be restored for future generations. To get involved please visit, www.sloanslakeparkfoundation.org.

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