DOW affirms support for Carbondale boat ramp purchase | AspenTimes.com

DOW affirms support for Carbondale boat ramp purchase

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Courtesy Pitkin County Open Space and TrailsThe Colorado Division of Wildlife is committed to helping secure the boat launch on the Roaring Fork River near Carbondale, the agency's director confirmed Tuesday.

CARBONDALE – Colorado’s top Division of Wildlife official has affirmed the agency’s commitment to help the town of Carbondale fund the purchase of a riverfront parcel that contains a popular boat ramp and access for anglers.

Division and town representatives met Friday in Denver to discuss issues around the town’s future plans for a kayak water park on the Roaring Fork River near the Koziel property, DOW Director Tom Remington said in a press release Tuesday.

The town is under contract to buy the 7.8-acre piece of property, which was the site of the former Sopris RV Park as well as the boat ramp and parking area.

The DOW, which has leased the boat launch for several years, agreed to contribute $950,000 toward the purchase of the property. The funding package also includes a $1 million portion of a Great Outdoors Colorado Legacy Grant awarded to Pitkin County Open Space and Trails in 2006, plus $450,000 from the town and $100,000 from Garfield County.

However, DOW officials had expressed concerns that the town’s eventual plans for wave structures as part of a whitewater park on that section of river may be counter to the division’s goals of preserving fishing access.

After Friday’s meeting, however, Remington indicated that the division is committed to helping the town close the purchase of the property.

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“The worst thing that could happen is that we would miss this opportunity to secure public access on this parcel,” Remington said. “The rest is details, and we are committed to working those out. This is a priority for us.”

He noted that the town is not ready to move forward immediately with construction of a whitewater park, and that the DOW has the town’s assurance that it would be able to participate in a future planning effort to ensure that any potential impacts to the fishery are addressed before any boating structures are placed in the river.

“It was a productive meeting, and everybody confirmed their commitment to the importance of this property acquisition,” Carbondale Town Manager Tom Baker said.

“We are in the process of working out an agreement so that the DOW and the town can join together in figuring out the issues around a kayak park, so that it doesn’t degrade the experience of the current users of the river,” he said.

Baker said he anticipates the town can close on the property by the end of the year, and preferably sooner.

jstroud@postindependent.com

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