LONE WOLF – After an absence of several years, potable water will be restored to campgrounds in the North Shore area of Quartz Mountain Nature Park later this year or early next year.
Water, sewer and electrical services typically have been available to park facilities and individual customers in the North Shore area. The North Shore Campground Project is located south and west of Lone Wolf.
A water well owned by Quartz Mountain Arts & Conference Center & Nature Park (QMA&CC&NP) had served the North Shore area since about 1964, records show. The aging well required frequent, expensive testing; eventually the internal casing collapsed and the well was shut in, records reflect.
“It would have been our responsibility to drill a new well when the old one collapsed,” said Larry Bush, the QMA&CC&NP executive director. “Due to the nature of the well it could not be rehabilitated, and cost estimates at the time for drilling a new well and all the necessary testing and connections were approximately $90,000.”
Since QMA&CC&NP did not have those funds available in its budget, “The decision was made to explore other options,” Bush related.
Throughout this period, the park was able to offer only “dry camping” to its recreational vehicle (RV) guests on the North Shore, and restroom facilities had to be closed. Guests camping on North Shore had to bring their own water in their RV storage tanks, and no fresh water was available in those areas, Bush said.
Subsequently, flooding on the North Shore caused damage to the electrical system and the entire area has been closed for approximately three years, said Sue Hokanson, manager of Quartz Mountain Nature Park.
Civil engineers for Quartz Mountain Regional Water Authority studied the project and presented a proposal for a new water line connecting the North Shore areas and facilities to their system at a cost of “just over $128,000,” Bush said.
QMRWA provides treated groundwater to the towns of Lone Wolf and Granite and to the Beach Haven community, to the Oklahoma State Reformatory at Granite, to a water corporation, and to Quartz Mountain Nature Park.
Drilling a new well to the North Shore “actually would cost much more over time than the water line project, even though the water line is more expensive in up-front costs,” Bush said. The pipeline “will not only provide a more reliable water source but also will eliminate the need for continual testing of the water well.”
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which constructed Lake Lugert-Altus, “generously offered to cover half of the cost” of the water line, Bush said, and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board approved a $64,415 Rural Economic Action Plan grant that will finance the other half of the project.
“We sincerely appreciate the support of these outstanding partners,” he said.
“I prioritized reopening North Shore when I took over last August, and the water project was critical to these efforts,” Bush said. “This water line project will make the camping sites much more accessible.”
A report prepared by Altus civil engineers Fox, Drechsler & Brickley indicates a 3-mile-long, 4-inch diameter water line will connect the North Shore area to an existing water line from the Quartz Mountain Regional Water Authority located approximately three miles east of Granite and half a mile north of SH-9, and about one-quarter mile east of Boydsville.
The project will serve approximately 67 campsites, professional engineer Gary Brickley wrote.
Bush, a member of the board of trustees for the Quartz Mountain Regional Water Authority, said the panel “voted at our meeting earlier this month to establish the necessary bank account in case the grant funds were approved by the Water Board, and we tentatively authorized QMRWA engineers to prepare the project for bids pending approval by the OWRB.”
The Water Board approved the REAP grant on Aug. 18.
Authorization from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality is required, too, and the proj- ect must be advertised twice in 21 days prior to bidding, Brickley said.
Construction has not yet begun “but we expect the project to move quickly from this point,” Bush said last Friday.
'BUSIEST YEAR ON RECORD'
Although the two campgrounds in the North Shore area remain closed, the main section of the park, on the south side of Lake Lugert-Altus, has nevertheless been “extremely busy” this year, Bush said. “This has been our busiest year on record,” Hokanson said. “We’ve been full 22 weekends in a row.”
Camping at Quartz Mountain has been “extremely popular” this summer, she said. Even with the two North Shore campgrounds closed, FY 2020, which ended June 30, was the best year for camping revenue, Hokanson said. More than $177,000 in camping fees were collected for 9,370 camp site/nights, ledgers show.
All recreational vehicle sites in the Main Park were occupied for 18 consecutive weeks, she said. “People started the camping season in April. More than 1,100 camp site/nights were collected in April 2020, a 79% increase over the 614 camp site/nights logged in April 2019.
And May of this year was even busier: 1,851 camp site/nights were collected, Hokanson said. “May of 2019 was very wet; more than 8 inches of rain fell in the park, which is reflected in just 843 camp site/nights. May of 2018 was more “normal” with 1,376 camp site/nights.
The exceptional popularity of Quartz Mountain Nature Park this year has been attributed in large part to the coronavirus. Several out-of-state and federal family vacation facilities closed this year “so our business went up,” Hokanson said.
The south side of the 4,540-acre Quartz Mountain Nature Park has a resort with 118 guest rooms featuring lake and mountain views, plus a dozen cabins. The complex also has an 18-hole golf course, paddle boats, and a convenience store. Other recreational activities include fishing, boating, hiking and rock climbing.
And even though the North Shore camping areas are still closed, “We’ve been opening the ATV area for riders ($10/ day), and the north swim beach is accessible from the Eagle’s Roost ATV area parking lot,” Bush said.
“Our camping and RV spots have been completely full every weekend since March, and bringing North Shore back online will more than double our capacity,” he said. “This will provide even more families an opportunity to enjoy all that Quartz Mountain has to offer, and will provide additional revenue to continue improving our facilities.”
In a related matter, “We are thrilled about the upcoming transfer of QMA&CC&NP from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education back into the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation,” Bush said.
“Working with the Governor’s office this year we were able to achieve all of our legislative goals. Due to the support and leadership of Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, state Sen. Brent Howard and Rep. Charles Ortega, and a host of other legislators and staff members, QMA&CC&NP was approved for an increased operating budget, a renovation budget, and the transfer of the facility into the Department of Tourism and Recreation, which will provide additional operational support and marketing.”
The Legislature appropriated $21.5 million to the Tourism and Recreation Department for FY 2021, an increase of almost $2.3 million, or 11.9%.