Morgan Lake is a warm water reservoir situated immediately north of Four Corners Power Plant. The lake has been stocked with fish. The lake and shoreline are surrounded by desert grass/shrub lands. There are tamarisk and Russian olive thickets along much of the shore with willows in some areas and cottonwood saplings in places. A few willows are tree size. Some of the shoreline is sandy. The delta mudflats vary in size depending on the water level, but there are always some mudflats available for shorebirds, waders, etc. Because of the warmer temperatures of the water returned to the reservoir by the power plant, the reservoir does not freeze when other area lakes do. Morgan Lake is currently open to the public and easily accessible and viewed from various points along the shore. Agreements were obtained with both the Four Corners Power Plant and the Navajo tribe (which controls the recreational use of the lake and grazes cattle around it) for the nomination of this area as an IBA. The Four Corners Power Plant Environmental Scientist, Mr. Howard Bradley, has been instrumental in erecting Wood Duck boxes and Osprey nesting platforms and in environmental education of local school children.
Directions: Drive 4.6 miles south on CR 6675 (Power plant road) from the junction of CR 6675 and US 550 in Fruitland.
Morgan Lake is an important migratory stop and wintering site for a large variety of birds. The lake and shoreline habitat is uncommon in San Juan county and Morgan Lake provides the largest site with such habitat in the county. Through the years Morgan Lake also has attracted vagrant and uncommon visitors seen rarely in the county and state. These include Brown Pelican, Black Skimmer, Black-legged Kittiwake, Sabine's Gull, and Red Knot. Significant numbers of Western Grebe are seen in fall, winter, and spring along with a few Clark's Grebe. Various species of waterfowl are seen in migration and winter, sometimes in large numbers.
Sources: J. Rees personal observations, Supplemental data from Tim Reeves
Tamarisk and Russian olive are the predominate tree species. They provide shelter and food for many species. The biggest threat is the closing of the power plant should coal reserves be exhausted.
Four Corners Power Plant
Cooling lake for power plant.