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Set in the golden short grass prairie of southeastern Colorado, Neeskah Reservoir is a small fertile gem of precious water. Along with its sister reservoirs, Neegronda, Neenoshe, and Neesopah, it provides water for agriculture, wildlife, and recreation.
Collectively known as the Great Plains Reservoirs, Neeskah and its sisters are all modified playa lakes or natural-basin reservoirs. Playa which is Spanish for beach is a term used to describe shallow lakes usually depressions created by compacted sediments. Over time the bottom becomes covered with clay and they fill with water. There are around 25,000 playa lakes, some only a foot deep, sprinkled all over the Southern Great Plains. Traditionally these lakes provided seasonal water for wildlife and the area's native peoples. More recently, however, some of the lakes have been modified to store flood water for irrigation. The Great Plains Reservoirs, created by the Great Plains Water Company is the most extensive project of its kind in the west. The reservoirs are fed by canal from the Arkansas River, and the water was used for irrigation for the first time in 1990. The other three reservoirs are linked to each other with a series of gates, but Neeskah formerly known as Upper and Lower Queen Reservoir is not connected. The reservoir's name was changed to Neeskah, a Cheyenne word meaning White Water, to avoid confusion.
Located just south of Eads in Kiowa County, the Great Plains Reservoirs are part of the Queens State Wildlife Area. With over 4,400 acres, the wildlife area is an excellent place to hunt for both large and small mammals including deer, rabbits, and squirrel and to hunt for game birds such as pheasant and bobwhite quail. There are also large populations of waterfowl for duck and geese hunters. Bird watchers will also love the waterfowl and Neeskah Reservoir is home for many shore birds and large flocks of snow geese.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife stocks the Great Plains Reservoirs annually, and although water levels fluctuate with irrigation needs there are plenty of fish in the lakes. Neeskah's sister reservoirs host walleye and bass tournaments and anglers can fish for crappie, wiper, and saugeye. There is also boating both motorized and sail boating, and waterskiing and windsurfing. There are no marinas in the area, but there is primitive camping around the reservoir.
With its open spaces, abundant wildlife, and precious water, Neeskah and the other Great Plains Reservoirs are a valuable gem for the region and a treasure for visitors.
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