By Cal Braid
Sunny South News
The Stafford Lake Resort is a new and improved version of its former self. For visitors and tourists who haven’t visited recently, the improvements are immediately apparent and impressive. Its tree-lined prairie layout alongside the reservoir offers an opportunity for camping, watercraft sports, swimming, fishing, basketball, volleyball, kayaking, and paddle boarding. The park is 20 minutes east of Lethbridge on Highway 3 and a short jaunt south on secondary road 512.
Brothers Benson and Nelson Porter took full ownership of the resort about three years ago and have made many upgrades to its layout and recreational value of it.
“We’ve reclaimed the whole front end of the park. We’ve added the boardwalk and reclaimed the shoreline that was just falling off. Erosion was destroying it,” Benson explained. “We reclaimed the whole shoreline down past the beach and (built it up with) rocks that we brought in. We re-sloped the whole hillside for trailer access and put in an upper bench,” to accommodate more trailers. “We planted grass and added irrigation, and there are about 90 sites here now.”
There’s a dock in the swimming area which is roped and buoyed off for safety. The beach is over half a kilometre long. Two docks were built further down the beach area. Visitors can use those for accessing the lake, with buoys for securing boats to avoid deterioration of the shoreline. The seasonal and day campground has maintained close to full occupancy during recent summers. With the reservoir supervised by the St. Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID), the park’s activities are coordinated with the irrigation district. “We’ve been very involved with the invasive species program. Every boat that wants to launch has to go through an invasive species questionnaire and sign off. We’ve worked closely with SMRID in the implementation of this program.” The lake is not stocked for fishing but replenishes itself naturally through the canals connecting the various reservoirs. “There’s not a lot of fishing that happens in the peak season,” said Benson. “It gets pretty heavy with boat traffic.
Even along our boardwalk, we don’t allow fishing because a lot of kids are swimming, and we don’t want hooks in the water. We usually send people down towards the dam and tell them that if they want to fish it’s better over there anyway.” A sign at the main boat launch indicates the sportfishing regulations, open May 8-March 15 and lists the known species as lake Whitefish, Burbot, Walleye, and Northern Pike. “Our park hosts have been with us a few years now and they do a great job keeping track of everything,” Benson adds. “We did a concert down here last year. We’re planning two concerts here this year and we’ve got some local guys performing.” They plan on a stage and a sound system will promote the event to invite folks to be a part of it. The beautification and facility improvements make it a very user-friendly recreational area for families seeking summer fun.