Aspen Camp programs jeopardized by water issue
The Aspen Camp for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will have a hard time running its programs this summer if it can’t raise the money to construct a water pond on its campus.
The Old Snowmass nonprofit has a well on its campus that is supplied by Snowmass Creek. In order to retain its water rights, it needs to build an augmentation pond that will give it the ability to return water to the creek in case of drought or low stream flow.
“The camp will not close,” said Katie Murch, interim executive director of finance and marketing. “However, we will lose our water right and then we will have a harder time carrying out our programs and/or managing our facilities. We need the water for recreational and educational purposes for our programs as well as environmental in case the creek ever runs low.”
In addition to augmenting the creek, the pond will be used for swimming, fishing, ice skating, stand-up paddleboarding as well as wildlife education for campers, Murch said.
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The camp has enlisted Wright Water Engineers to help it excavate and build the augmentation pond, said DJ Monahan, interim executive director of programs. However, the camp has only raised $25,000 for the project, which it just learned could cost as much as $200,000, Murch said.
“We are nervous about this and really need the community’s help,” she said. “We are applying to three qualified grants to help cover some of the cost.”
Founded in 1967, the Aspen Camp is one of the Roaring Fork Valley’s oldest nonprofits. It is the only camp in the country that provides year-round programming for deaf and hard of hearing children and adults as well as for their family members. Aspen Camp serves about 2,000 people every year now, up from the 300 it used to reach up until 2009, Murch said.
This year, it will serve even more: The nonprofit now offers You Camp, a program through which local businesses, schools and other organizations can rent its campus and equipment and hire its staff for their own programs.
“Basalt Elementary, Aspen Elementary, Yampah High School, and local churches have taken advantage of this program in the past years,” Murch said. “We are already receiving more You Camp requests for this year. So we are growing in great ways, and this pond will help support the exciting demands we are facing and enhance the quality of our programs and services.”
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