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Gunnison Bend Reservoir gets its name from the nearby town of Gunnison (it lies to the East of the lake), and from the big bend in the middle. It should not be confused with Gunnison Reservoir, which lies on the opposite side of the aforementioned town. Gunnison Bend is the result of a horseshoe bend in the Sevier River that was subsequently dammed to create the reservoir.
The area was settled by a group of pioneers sent out by the Church of the Latter Day Saints to expand their holdings. Farms were started, and the town of Deseret was created. Every year the farms and town were flooded by the spring thaw, and then tormented by drought. The local pioneers realized that the yearly replacement of their sticks-and-stones dam was growing a bit tedious. The spring thaw from the nearby mountains repeatedly washed out the crudely built dam and flooded the nearby fields. In 1895 a "real" dam was constructed, but it was not enough to hold back the thaw. For the next 12 years, a few feet were added to the dam until 1907 when the final changes were made.
In 1909 and 1910, flooding was severe enough that it topped the dam yet again. No changes were made, though, and the dam proved to be enough for the next 73 years. In 1983 extremely severe flooding caused the dam to burst, and a new dam had to be constructed. It has held for 23 years, and seems to be going strong. The current dam is maintained by DMAD (originally the Delta, Melville, Abraham, and Deseret Irrigation Companies).
Gunnison Bend Reservoir is the last impoundment of the Sevier River. Upstream impoundments tap the river for irrigation water, so the river's volume is greatly reduced by the time it reaches Gunnison Bend Reservoir. In turn, this reservoir's outlets provide irrigation water to the area, essentially stopping the Sevier River from flowing any further. The last time the Sevier River flowed beyond Gunnison Bend Reservoir was during the 1983 flooding. The lake is classified as hypereutrophic (nutrient rich), due primarily to agricultural runoff.
Gunnison Bend Reservoir is a perfect location for water sports enthusiasts. There is one public boat launch and swimming beaches located at the only public park around the lake - Gunnison Bend Park. The park and its shoreline are the only parts of the lake that are accessible to the public, as 89% of the reservoir's shoreline is privately owned.
Due to its shallow depth, the waters stay quite warm throughout the summer months. And, because of the shape of the lake, there are no large bays and large waves cannot form. Gunnison Bend Reservoir is a favorite for boating enthusiasts, water skiers, and jet skiers. The water isn't exactly clear, but the warm temperatures make it excellent for swimming and sun bathing.
Anglers are as plentiful as the fish in Gunnison Bend Reservoir. The primary catch is bass, but you'll also find catfish, yellow perch, carp, bluegill and some walleye. But, fish and fisherman aren't the only wildlife you'll find. Many varieties of migratory birds make Gunnison Bend Reservoir a stop on their yearly routes. You can see egrets, cranes, geese, and a multitude of ducks.
In the winter, the temperatures can drop as low as 10 degrees, allowing for some excellent ice fishing. In addition, the yearly Snow Goose Festival livens up the area in late winter/early spring. In early spring the thaw from the mountains swells the lake and helps it maintain a decent level through the 90 degree summers. Since little rain falls during the warm summer months, this extra keeps the lake from drying up altogether every year.
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