Parks addresses challenges with parks and sports fields

Published on February 02, 2024

Photograph of Spirio soccer field in White Rock at Overlook Park

The Los Alamos County Parks division is committed to ensuring the safety and usability across all county parks and sports fields, including those at Overlook Park. So when citizens began to express concern over the presence of gophers and their potential hazards, Superintendent Wendy Parker ramped up her already aggressive approach to address and mitigate these challenges. 


Since May 2023, the Parks staff and contractor have captured 223 gophers, twice as many as last year (2022). However, to stay ahead of the gopher population, Parker is also soliciting a professional gopher extermination service to enhance these efforts. A finalized agreement is anticipated in early March. Until then, her team has targeted the turf areas most affected and has identified additional resources to catch gophers, fill the cavities, and level the mounds to prepare the fields for use when the season begins.


Thanks to funds approved by the County Council to address the field conditions in the 2024 fiscal year budget, the Parks team has been able to be more aggressive in implementing mitigation measures that go beyond gopher control. The team is even planning a major renovation this coming spring.


Overlook Park maintenance issues are a combination of multiple items such as poor irrigation, limited growing season, animals (deer and gopher) which all contribute to the complexity of maintaining these public spaces. Parker is working closely with the Department of Public Utilities to improve the effluent irrigation system and supplement it with potable water when effluent is scarce to maintain the health of the turf and playability of sports fields.


Parker reports that while it may seem that the condition of parks, sports fields (including those at Overlook Park) and the golf course have suffered more significant damage than in previous years, they are in fact in similar condition for this time of year. She explains that January is a tricky time of year for the Parks team as they work to prepare the fields. With afternoon temperatures above freezing and nighttime temperatures below freezing, maintenance is difficult as the fields are frozen in the morning and a mucky mess in the afternoon. She appreciates that many league officials are anxious to get a jump on sports practice, but the conditions of the fields are not optimal for that type of activity right now. She is actively communicating with league officials to find other options and solutions.


Parker iterated her commitment to employing every possible measure to mitigate the presence of all hazards, including gophers, at all county-owned parks, sports fields and the golf course.  She also encourages citizens to remain vigilant. “We ask that everyone take a moment to assess the area before use, ensuring it is safe and meets your needs. This collaborative effort between Parks and the community helps us maintain high safety standards and ensures that our parks and sports fields continue to be a source of enjoyment and recreation for everyone.”


For more information, updates, or inquiries, please contact Superintendent Wendy Parker or her staff at (505) 662-8159.

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