Boardwalk construction slated

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— An ambitious and expensive boardwalk project nears its ends this weekend when an estimated 200 volunteers are expected to converge upon Rotary River Park in Steamboat Springs.

The Boardwalk at Rotary River Park project is a Steamboat Springs Rotarian-led effort to build a 1,300-foot-long boardwalk that winds through seven acres of wetlands near a stretch of the Yampa River in east Steamboat. The goal of the project is to provide access for wildlife viewing, fishing and interpretive education with minimal impact to the area.

The $300,000 project was initiated in conjunction with Rotary International's 100th anniversary, for which the global organization called on each of its more than 31,000 Rotary clubs to undertake projects beneficial to their communities.

Planning for the project began more than a year ago and quickly escalated as it grew in size and scope, project chairman Chan Coyle said. But with many veteran businesspeople and experts in a variety of fields within its ranks, the Steamboat Springs Rotary Club was able to organize and fund a project that Coyle expects will dwarf work done by other clubs across the globe.

"This is really the exception to the rule," Coyle said. "I'd have to say this has to be one of the bigger projects, especially for our size, of any club in the country." Steamboat's Rotary Club has about 100 members.

The boardwalk, which will rise one to two feet above ground level, will feature three ADA-accessible fishing platforms, benches, interpretive signs in both English and Spanish and a kiosk. Yampatika, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado Division of Wildlife, is creating the interpretive signs that will focus on the wildlife and habitat of the wetlands area.

"We're psyched," Coyle said as this weekend's volunteer workdays near. "It's going to be an opportunity to help build an educational boardwalk that will become one of the things that when you bring your parents to Steamboat, you'll take them there. It's going to be neat."

The Steamboat Springs Rotary Club adopted the city-owned park in 1985 and since that time, has installed picnic tables, a parking lot, access points to the Yampa River and a portion of the Core Trail system. The raised boardwalk is the final phase of the park's long-term development plan.

Significant fund-raising was needed to undertake the project. Contributions for the project include a $114,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant, $10,000 from the Steamboat Springs Ski and Resort Corp., $30,000 from local Rotarians, $50,000 in miscellaneous fund-raising efforts and thousands of dollars in in-kind donations, Coyle said.

Also instrumental to the project is the support of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, a nonprofit organization that agreed to coordinate labor and planning for the project. VOC is expected to bring volunteers from across the state this weekend to help construct the boardwalk. Rotarians and local volunteers also will be part of the work force. Anyone interested in participating is asked to contact VOC at (303) 715-1010.

VOC staff member Aleta Katra said the organization selected Boardwalk at Rotary River Park as one of its projects for the year because of the support it has generated from the community and for its value to the area.

Volunteer work is expected to begin early Saturday and continue through Sunday afternoon. The parking lot adjacent to Rotary River Park will be closed Friday through Monday.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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