Storm doesn't dampen volunteers' efforts

More than 200 volunteers from across Colorado pitched in to build Rotary Park boardwalk

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Even with rain clouds looming, 200 volunteers cut, pieced and hammered together the Rotary Park's boardwalk Saturday and Sunday.

Stormy weather had both workdays cut short, but crews were able to complete about 70 percent of the 1,300-foot-long boardwalk that extends through wetlands and branches out onto the Yampa River.

The Steamboat Springs Rotary Club led the effort for the $300,000 project that will wind a boardwalk through 7 acres of wetlands near a stretch of the Yampa River in east Steamboat. The boardwalk will allow for wildlife viewing, fishing and interpretive education with minimal impact on the wetlands.

This weekend materialized more than a year's worth of planning and an idea that was thought about more than 15 years ago, said project chairman Chan Coyle.

Before the volunteers descended on Rotary Park this weekend, the metal platforms were placed into the ground. Local volunteers and those from a statewide organization, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, worked in groups of six to 10 on segments of the boardwalk. They worked on framing the boardwalk and putting boards on top. Each board had to be cut and put in place.

Heavy rain called off work at 4:30 p.m. Saturday and ended the day at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. The goal was to have the project complete by the end of the weekend, but Coyle said he hopes work can be done throughout the fall so that the boardwalk will be finished by the first substantial snowfall.

The rain was nothing new for Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado members, who are working on 21 projects this year. Executive Director Kate Boland said this year was dubbed "wet and wild" because they had chosen projects across the state that dealt with wetlands, wild life habitat and wilderness areas.

"What has come to pass for every project, and like this morning, it has been wet and chilly," she said.

The group set up a tent in the Tennis Meadows parking lot. The members came from across the state to work on the project, bringing skilled carpenters and construction tools with them. Local construction companies donated generators.

"We never would have done it without them," Rotary President John Holloway said of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado.

Volunteers from Boys Scouts and the Rotary Club also came out to work during the weekend. Volunteers ranged in age from 8 to 80, Coyle said.

"I can honestly say a lot of people today made some new friends," he said.

When finished, the boardwalk, which rises 1 to 2 feet above the ground, will have three ADA-accessible fishing platforms, benches, signs in English and Spanish and a kiosk.

"We get to go into areas we normally wouldn't get to go into," Holloway said.

When done, Coyle said the boardwalk has the potential to be as important to the community as the Yampa River Botanic Park, a place to take out-of-town visitors and parents.

"I really believe it is something to share," Coyle said.

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

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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