LINCOLN COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – A lake near Ruidoso has been closed for more than 10 years due to a wildfire. Now, it is getting closer to once again welcoming visitors.

Bonito Lake near Ruidoso has been closed since 2012 when it was nearly destroyed in the Little Bear Fire. The lake is owned by the City of Alamogordo, which uses it as a city water source. A few years ago, city commissioners approved a contract with Smithco Construction to complete the restoration project for more than $8 million.

“Their focus before was on the lake and the dam and getting that water, and now, it’s going to be on the buildings, getting restrooms ready,” Alamogordo Marketing and Communications Specialist Bailey Orwoll explained.

The city said it’s been a slow process, but their priority is to make sure the lake is adequately restored before the public returns. The lake is now filled with water, but it will remain closed for ecological reasons.

“We don’t have fish in it right now because we want the plantation to grow, like all the good bacteria for the fish,” said Orwoll.

Back in September, the city conducted a survey to learn what people would like to see at the lake and received hundreds of responses.

“People are wanting this lake to happen because they want to like camp, and I saw canoeing and stuff like that,” said Orwoll.

Officials said they have also been getting lots of calls from community members, asking when the lake will open again.

The goal is to have a soft opening in about a year. FEMA, as well as state and local funds, paid for the restoration.