Garrison Diversion

Recreation Programs

Recreation Programs

North Dakota is a place unlike any other, unique in the truest sense of the word. Garrison Diversion stands positioned to preserve and enhance this special place where people and nature can still exist side by side. Building on this vision is a prime component in Garrison Diversion’s commitment to improving the state’s recreation development.

The enhancement of one of North Dakota’s most treasured resources, our recreational opportunities, is a key initiative for Garrison Diversion. Investing in the promotion, development and preservation of our natural resources is important to ensure the continued and future utilization of these areas.

Matching Recreation Grant Program

recreationAnswer the following questions to determine your eligibility:

  1. Is the project located within the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District?

  2. Is the project sponsor a political subdivision of the state of North Dakota?
    • Examples of eligible sponsors include park boards, city and county government.

If you responded “yes” to both questions, your project is eligible to receive a matching recreation grant from Garrison Diversion.

Recreation Grant Program

Garrison Diversion believes in developing recreational opportunities that provide North Dakotans areas to enjoy our great outdoors. For this reason, Garrison Diversion dedicates two-tenths, or 20%, of its one-mill levy to our Matching Recreation Grant Program.

Funds from this program have been awarded to install new playground equipment at parks, develop campground facilities and walking paths, among other facilities. Throughout the life of the program, over $9.0 million has been awarded for recreation projects.

Grants may be requested for new recreation facilities or enhancement, renovation or expansion of existing facilities. Political subdivisions located within the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District may apply for the program.

Applications must be submitted to the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District’s Recreation Committee for their review and consideration. The committee meets twice a year to disburse funds. Grant applications should be submitted by March 1 for the spring meeting and September 1 for the fall meeting.

Garrison Diversion Member Counties

2023 GDCD counties map
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The Dakota Water Resources Act of 2000 included the authorization of $6.5 million for a recreation program. Garrison Diversion and the Bureau of Reclamation are developing the program.

The natural beauty of North Dakota can be experienced while hiking on the North Country Trail. Administered by the National Parks Service, this hiking and horseback riding trail begins in New York and stretches 4,600 miles across the country to North Dakota.  The trail traverses Garrison Diversion Unit lands including the New Rockford Canal, the Lonetree Wildlife Management Area and the McClusky Canal.

By providing land and maintaining sections of this national scenic trail, the benefits of Garrison Diversion’s recreation component are felt across the country. Brekken-Holmes, Hoffer Lake and the Lonetree Wildlife Management Area are some of the Garrison Diversion recreational facilities that hikers and horseback riders will travel through on the North Dakota segment of the North Country Trail. They will also experience more than a dozen other wildlife refuges and management areas are scattered along the McClusky and New Rockford Canals.

North Country Trail Association

After Congress reauthorized the Garrison Diversion Unit project in 1965, Garrison Diversion officials began to establish recreational opportunities. Several prime recreation areas were identified, including those on Devils Lake. Four facilities were established that make up Devils Lake State Parks. These parks, together with other recreational sites, stand as a testimony to Garrison Diversion’s commitment to make full use of North Dakota water.

Though the rising waters of Devils Lake have inundated recreation areas such as Shelvers Grove, Grahams Island State Park still offers recreation opportunities. Amenities at Grahams Island State Park include a boat ramp, bait shop, modern and primitive camping facilities and camping cabins. The recreation area includes summer camping, hiking, playgrounds and year-round, day-long opportunities. The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department manages the park.

ND Parks and Recreation Department

Recreation opportunities are abundant along the McClusky Canal and its associated lakes.  The Chain of Lakes area, as well as Lakes Brekken-Holmes and Hoffer Lake, have seen many developments improving recreation opportunities at each of the lakes.  The McClusky Canal is important to these recreation areas because water is pumped from the canal, as needed, in order to maintain optimal water levels for recreation.

Chain of Lakes

Four in-line lakes on the McClusky Canal are commonly referred to as the Chain of Lakes.  East Park Lake, West Park Lake, Heckers Lake and New Johns Lake provide numerous recreation opportunities such as fishing, camping, boating, hunting, hiking and more. Recreation areas are also equipped with boat ramps, primitive camping sites and vault toilets for the convenience of visitors. 

Recently, New Johns Lake saw vast improvements to its recreation opportunities, including the creation of a day-use area in a previously undeveloped location. The recreation area now has a courtesy boat dock, a concrete boat ramp, vault toilets, a parking lot and sidewalks.  In addition, a camping loop was developed adding several campsites to New Johns Lake.   

The East Park Lake recreation area has also been revamped.  Improvements include the construction of a handicap fishing pier, a sidewalk, concrete parking pad, and a handicap accessible fish cleaning station and RV dump site. Parking and access to restrooms were also made handicap accessible. Two hundred feet of beach line was also constructed at the East Park Lake recreation area.

Garrison Diversion continues basic maintenance of the McClusky Canal recreation facilities.

Brekken-Holmes & Hoffer Lakes

Additional lakes associated with the McClusky Canal are Lakes Brekken-Holmes and Hoffer Lake.  Brekken-Holmes and Hoffer Lake recreation areas are examples of community facilities that have improved the economic and recreational opportunities of the local communities of Turtle Lake and McClusky.

These two parks are the result of collaboration between the Bureau of Reclamation, Garrison Diversion and local communities that identified areas in need of developed recreation areas.
Brekken-Holmes has been developed with softball diamonds, shelters equipped with electricity and water for camping and picnicking, horseshoe pits, playground equipment, a concession building, restrooms, dump station, boat ramps with courtesy docks and a fishing pier at Lightening Lake. The area is managed by the Turtle Lake Park Board.

Hoffer Lake is located three miles north of McClusky.  Garrison Diversion manages the water levels of the lake by pumping from the McClusky Canal in order to provide optimum recreational opportunities.  The Sheridan County Park Board manages this area.  Activities such as swimming, fishing and boating can be found at Hoffer Lake.  Development of the area included tree planting and the construction of new boat ramps, as well as camping and picnic areas with fishing docks, all completed in cooperation with the local park board. 

As a part of its program to replace and enhance wildlife habitat, Garrison Diversion has been careful to set aside land for wildlife refuges and management areas accessible to people with a wide variety of recreational interests. The Lonetree Reservoir, originally part of the Garrison Diversion Unit project, was developed into the Lonetree Wildlife Management Area and has increased nature-based tourism opportunities in North Dakota.