The Capital Development Committee of the state Legislature on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for an agreement between the Colorado Division of Wildlife and city of Steamboat Springs to conserve and manage the north Lafarge gravel pit site.
The committee approves all of the DOW's real estate transactions, said Susan Werner, area wildlife manager for the Division of Wildlife.
Meanwhile, Routt County commissioners agreed Tuesday to write a letter of support for the collaborative project to the same committee.
The 102-acre North Pit site is south of Steamboat between River Road and Colorado Highway 131 and is next to the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area. Lafarge is continuing reclamation work at the North Pit site, and the city of Steamboat Springs continues to firm up plans to purchase the land.
Obtaining the property, which will cost about $900,000, has been in the works for years. Funds are coming from the Yampa River Legacy Project, which is supported in part by Great Outdoors Colorado, from another GOCO open space grant, from the DOW, and from a break from Lafarge.
The plan is for the city to own the fee title for the area, while the DOW will own the conservation easement for the area and manage recreation on the property, Werner said.
Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said during the county's Tuesday meeting that the plan to preserve the site for open space and some recreational uses fits in well with land use goals in the area.
He said the county would like to be involved in long-range planning for the open space and that he hoped all steps to mitigate concerns of neighbors about activities on the parcel would be taken.
The DOW now plans to restrict public use to foot and possibly horseback travel in the area, Werner said. The area will be used for wildlife experiences, such as watching wildlife, fishing and water-fowl hunting, uses already allowed at the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area.
Noise from fowl hunting has brought some concerns from adjacent landowners, she said.
There will be a small parking lot on River Road for access to the site, and in the future, a small access bridge may be built over the river so people can access the land, Werner said.
"We're really excited to have that opportunity to bring it online," she said. "It's my vision that in 50 years, we're really going to benefit from having open space close to town."
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