Steamboat Springs Locals soon will have more space for recreational activities on Emerald Mountain.
The city of Steamboat Springs has completed the $455,000 purchase of a 10-acre site on Emerald from the Maureen Smilkstein Revocable Trust. The site borders the city-owned Howelsen Park Open Space Area above the Fairview neighborhood and southwest of trails accessed by Blackmer Drive. The city's purchase includes a $200,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado and $255,000 from the city's capital fund - continuing a trend of preservation on the mountain. In February, the Bureau of Land Management acquired more than 4,100 acres on Emerald from the Colorado State Land Board.
Craig Robinson, open space supervisor for the city's Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department, said the 10-acre site borders the city-owned Occra property, which provides access to Blackmer trails and Howelsen Ski Area. The new site will provide additional land for outdoor recreation, year-round trails, open space, wildlife habitat and scenic corridors.
"Right now, we don't have any immediate plans for the parcel," Robinson said. "It could be recreation trails, such as for Nordic skiing or snowshoeing in the winter, and there's open space and wildlife values there as well."
City staff worked with Steamboat residents Daniel and Maureen Smilkstein and GOCO to purchase the land.
Since 1994, GOCO has awarded more than $20 million in state lottery funds for projects in Routt County that preserve and enhance parks, wildlife, trails, rivers and open space. Linda Kakela, the city's director of intergovernmental services, said GOCO helped the city acquire the Fournier Natural Area in west Steamboat last year. In 2005, GOCO helped the city acquire land that is now part of the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area, a 101-acre site south of Steamboat that is managed by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
"You'd be hard-pressed to look anywhere in this community and not see something that was part of a partnership with GOCO funds," Kakela said. "It's terribly impressive what's been accomplished through partnerships with GOCO."
Robinson said community surveys and the Steamboat Springs City Council have continually supported preservation of open space, recreation areas and wildlife habitat.
"I think the community would like to see preservation rather than a house going in there, which was a possibility," Robinson said. "We thought we should follow through and make that purchase."