Saturday, May 31, 2008

DOW may construct foot bridge over Yampa River

DOW plans footbridge
Proposed steel bridge would open up 50-acre lake for fishing
By Tom Ross (Contact)
Thursday, May 29, 2008

Steamboat Springs — The Colorado Division of Wildlife plans to build a 120-foot-long steel footbridge over the Yampa River at the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area south of Steamboat Springs.

The bridge would link an existing parking lot on Routt County Road 14 with a 50-acre fishing lake created by the old Lafarge gravel pit. Access to the lake will be from the east only via the parking lot. The proposed site of the bridge is about two miles southwest of U.S. Highway 40 and Colorado Highway 131.

The 101-acre parcel surrounding the lake was acquired from Lafarge in late 2004 for a price several hundred thousand dollars less than its appraised value. The purchase was made with funding help from the Yampa River Legacy Project and Great Outdoors Colorado.

“I have been involved in the final plans for the bridge and trail and believe the project will be very beneficial to local and visiting anglers,” District Wildlife Manager Danielle Domson wrote in a memo to the Routt County Planning Department.

Domson said a fisheries management plan has yet to be established. Without a bridge, the only legal access to the lake is by kayak or wading the river at low water.

County Planner Connie Staponski confirmed the DOW has entered the county planning process to satisfy local officials that the bridge will conform to county water body setback and floodplain regulations.

The DOW is pursuing a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and will seek construction bids for the project.

Plans to begin construction this summer depend on receiving bids that come within the budget, Domson said.

The 6-foot-wide bridge would consist of a prefabricated steel truss pedestrian bridge, according to bid documents. It would rest on concrete footers at either end. The bridge would be built in a spot between two islands where the river channel is narrowest.

The work also would include the installation of stream bank riprap to prevent erosion and revegetation of the surrounding area. The contractor also would promise to leave any archaeological sites, burial sites or paleontology finds unearthed by construction, unharmed.

The land surrounding the lake is outside the city limits but owned by the city of Steamboat Springs. An agreement governing the acquisition calls for the DOW to manage it in perpetuity.

In recent years, Yampa Valley FlyFishers has undertaken a stream rehabilitation project along the Yampa within the boundaries of the Chuck Lewis area. The pond affords fishing and waterfowl hunting opportunities.

Staponski said county ap­­proval for the bridge is likely to be acted on at the administrative level and would not involve a public hearing.

Recreating in a Colorado State Wildlife Area such as the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area on the Yampa River south of Steamboat Springs requires a state habitat stamp.

Anyone who has purchased a Colorado fishing license already possesses a habitat stamp. People who want to use the wildlife areas to hike or pursue other forms of recreation may purchase a stamp for $10.25 at the combined U.S. Forest Service/Division of Wildlife service center on U.S. Highway 40 across from the Holiday Inn.

Of the total fee, $10 goes to acquiring more habitat and 25 cents defrays the cost of search and rescue expenses.

The fees also apply to the Service Creek Trailhead and Christina fishing area on the Elk River.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Century 21Ski Town Associates.
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