Representatives from HorseThief Reservoir gave Dodge City Commissioners an update Monday.

HorseThief Reservoir was made possible through a partnership with Ford, Finney, Gray and Hodgeman counties.

"I can't say enough about Ford, Finney, Gray and Hodgeman (counties) on coming together to build this reservoir," HorseThief representative Josh Hobbs said. "With only a 1.5% sales tax, they have something up there that nearly 100,000 people visit every year since the lake has been full."

According to Hobbs, as part of the joint partnership, Finney County has committed $1.1 million, Ford County $833,000, Gray County $108,000 and Hodgeman County $24,000, in 2018.

The lake is 1,600 acres of property with 450 acres of water and park, camping, cabins, boat ramp parking and beach making up about 160 acres located in Hodgeman County. The rest of the property is set up for walk-in hunting or other activities.

The lake also has five yurts — portable covered tents mostly seen in Asia — available to be rented out.

"They have been full since the last weekend in April every single weekend," Hobbs said. "Adding water to the lake had a lot to do with that.

"It is certainly something to be proud of here in southwest Kansas."

HorseThief maintains three full-time staff members, and with such events as live concerts and other activities, the majority of the assistance comes from volunteers.

"They are a viable part," Hobbs said. "There are also a lot of businesses in Dodge City that put a lot of money into the lake and a lot of time and effort to increase it every year."

The next challenge for HorseThief is to keep attendance high with activities weekend-to-weekend during non-lake season.

"We need to keep the campground full October through December instead of just five months out of the year," Hobbs said. "The Friends of HorseThief group is playing a very vital role."

Activities include the Zombie Paintball Event that runs every Friday and Saturday through October.

With pheasant and deer hunting season in November and December, rentals at HorseThief are available.

The 1.5% sales tax bond is due to sunset in December 2021.

City commissioners also approved the appointment of Dodge City Parks and Recreation director Troy Brown as the city of Dodge City's representative on the HorseThief Reservoir Board of Directors.

According to city officials, the Dodge City Commission is provided the opportunity to appoint a representative to the HorseThief Reservoir board in accordance with the Kansas statute establishing the reservoir funding mechanism, board of directors, and more.

"We have to appoint someone every two years for the HorseThief Reservoir board," Dodge City manager Cherise Tieben said. "Since Troy has come on board he has been our appointee for that because of his experience with Kansas Wildlife and Parks and experience with the HorseThief Reservoir board."

Commissioners approved the appointment unanimously with a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Kent Smoll was absent from the meeting and did not vote.


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