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Its acres and acres of grasses and grains and endless uninterrupted views have inspired legends and songs about the Great Plains. Tucked away in the southeastern corner of Colorado, the Great Plains Reservoirs are pockets of water situated in the short grass prairie typical of the southern Great Plains. Neesopah, a Cheyenne word for Black Water, is one of the four reservoirs commonly known as the Great Plains Reservoirs.
Located just south of Eads in Kiowa County, named after the Kiowa Indians, Neesopah and its sister reservoirs Neegronda, Neenoshe, and Neeskah are modified playa lakes or natural-basin reservoirs. Playa is Spanish for beach and describes the almost 25,000 shallow lakes that dot the southern Great Plains. Some playa lakes are only a foot deep, and with an average depth of less than ten feet, Neesopah is typical. Depressions formed by compacted sediment, historically playa lakes provided water for wildlife and the native people in the area. More recently, they have been used to store flood water for irrigation.
The Great Plains Reservoirs were built by the Great Plains Water Company and were used for irrigation for the first time in 1990. They are the most extensive natural-basin reservoir project in the west. Water is diverted from the Arkansas River through a series of canals and gates to the reservoirs. With the exception Neeskah, the reservoirs are networked together and can be accessed as needed for irrigation causing water levels to fluctuate. Water levels are currently managed by the Arkansas Valley Sugar Beet and Irrigated Land Company.
There is no public access to Neesopah, but the other three reservoirs offer ample recreation opportunities with boat ramps, sail boating, windsurfing and waterskiing. The Colorado Division of Wildlife stocks the reservoirs and anglers can fish for crappie, wiper, saugeye and bullhead. There are also annual walleye and bass tournaments at two of Neesopah's sister reservoirs. There is no marina in the area, but with the exception of Neesopah, there is primitive camping around the reservoirs.
All the Great Plains Reservoirs are part of the Queens State Wildlife Area. Hunters will find excellent hunting for both large and small mammals as well as game birds and water fowl. Bird watchers will find shorebirds, least terns, owls, and snowy, mountain, and pipng plovers. Lucky visitors may even see golden and bald eagles.
With an average of one square mile for every person, Kiowa County is hardly a bustling area, but for the visitor who wants to watch the antelope roam over wide open prairie, the Great Plains Reservoirs are just right.
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