Friday, April 24, 2009 | 1:30 a.m.
The National Park Service next week will begin construction on the $20 million redevelopment of Willow Beach in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the project should be finished in October 2010.
The redevelopment contract, funded through the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act, has been awarded to Interstate Rock Products, Inc., a contracting firm based in Hurricane, Utah.
Park Service spokesman Andrew Munoz said the upgrades include a state-of-the-art RV campground, a 1.5-mile riverfront trail, an upgraded marina and a rebuilt store. The campground will have full hookups for electricity, water and wastewater. The plan also includes new park and picnic facilities.
"From the point you enter the area, it will be brand new," Munoz said.
The upgrades, coupled with the completion of the Hoover Dam Bypass and the widening of U.S. 93 in Arizona, could spur an increase in the number of visitors to the area, Munoz said.
Boaters from Las Vegas have been hindered from visiting the area by wait times to cross the Hoover Dam. The bypass also will make it easier for drivers towing their boats, Munoz said.
"It's a beautiful area -- one of the best-kept secrets in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area -- and we hope to have more visitors discover it," he said.
Willow Beach had 127,000 visitors last year, according to park service records. The area is 14 miles south of Hoover Dam in Arizona.
Amenities like the Willow Beach launch ramp and Black Canyon Willow Beach Adventures will stay open during construction. The fishing pier, which opened in August 2008, will stay open but could see temporary closures as part of construction, Munoz said.
In 1979, a flood wiped out the original campground. The initial stages of the Willow Beach overhaul began in 1992 as plans formed to address the area's flood zones.
Munoz said flooding forced the area's trailer village to be removed in the mid-1990s.
New flood control measures will address flood hazards, including an audible alert system that will warn park visitors of an approaching flash flood. Concrete flood control channels will direct water flows away from visitor areas.
Because Lake Mohave is further down the Colorado River than Lake Mead, the water level is less likely to fluctuate, Munoz said.
"There will always be a serviceable boat launch ramp at Willow Beach," he said.
The marinas at Echo Bay and Temple Bar are facing temporary closures due to low water levels. By July, the lake level will be about 14 feet below last year’s lowest point according to Bureau of Reclamation projections.