Place:  Clayton Lake State Park

Location:  Clayton, New Mexico   

Person interviewed:  Leroy and Katie Montoya, retired

Land and Water Conservation Fund
Land and Water Conservation Fund

How this site benefits you and your community: Leroy Montoya was a small boy when his father began building the Clayton Dam in eastern New Mexico’s Union County. Funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund helped create the Clayton Lake State Park that continues to feed and build the community today. “It’s one of our biggest community resources, and also economic resources,” Leroy said, greeting nearby visitors as they make their way to a camping space.

“When I was younger, I used to bring my children – all now grown – to the lake on weekends and during vacations. Every time they come back to visit, we come out here to the lake.”

Land and Water Conservation Fund

Now retired, Leroy and Katie continue to volunteer, helping others enjoy the camping area and organizing the annual fishing derby, which draws roughly 2,500 people from Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico to the Clayton Lake State Park.   All ages vie for the nearly $14,000 in prizes, including a boat giveaway.

The park also is home to dinosaur tracks from creatures that roamed the land 100 million years ago. The tracks were uncovered during the building of the dam and now draw visitors from around the country. During the winter months, the lake becomes home to migratory birds, drawing birdwatchers throughout the winter months.

Leroy says, “I could live my entire life out here at the lake. That is, if my wife would let me.”