New Mexico

Park Rangers on alert as tens of thousands visit Elephant Butte Lake

Memorial Day at Elephant Butte Lake

ELEPHANT BUTTE, New Mexico - Officials estimate more than 100,000 people visited Elephant Butte Lake on Memorial Day weekend, about 10,000 more than last year.

Park officials told ABC-7 they remained extra vigilant while patrolling the water.

Monday, ABC-7 saw families cruising on jet skis and sailing in boats. Some had life jackets on, other's didn't. Some preferred to stay on land and play in the sand.

You are allowed to drink alcohol while at the lake. You can also drink if you're a passenger in a boat.

Sal Gonzalez, boating manager at Elephant Butte Lake, says surprisingly this weekend they haven't had to cite anyone for driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol.

Beth Wojan, with the New Mexico Park's department, says they have handed out numerous citations for other violations.

"Our marine enforcement officers have cited some people for not wearing their life jackets while they were on a kayak or being under the age and not have a boating safety class," Wojan said. "It takes about 8 hours and it's required, it's state law to operate a motor craft in New Mexico."

While riding along in a boat with Gonzalez, we came across one child who was driving a jet ski with out the required certification. Gonzalez gave the family a warning, and informed them about taking the safety class.

Gonzalez also warned a driver who was speeding near the marina. Gonzalez says there is no speed limit when out on the open water, you just have to use your best judgement.

Wojan said there have been no fatalities at the lake this Memorial Day weekend. She said someone drowned a few weeks ago, but she says it was believed the person suffered a medical emergency.

comments powered by Disqus