A swallow glides across the Yampa River in search of food Wednesday at the Chuck Lewis Wildlife Area on Routt County Road 14.  The Division of Wildlife is proposing building a footbridge over the river.

Photo by Matt Stensland

A swallow glides across the Yampa River in search of food Wednesday at the Chuck Lewis Wildlife Area on Routt County Road 14. The Division of Wildlife is proposing building a footbridge over the river.

DOW plans footbridge

Proposed steel bridge would open up 50-acre lake for fishing

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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.

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A red-winged blackbird sits in a tree at the Chuck Lewis Wildlife Area on Routt County Road 14. The Colorado Division of Wildlife plans to build a 120-foot-long steel footbridge over the river at the wildlife area.

— 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.

- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

brownskull 5 years, 10 months ago

What a great Idea! Destroy more wetlands and public hunting areas so that some lazy people can catch fish in a man made pond. Take that money and spend it on preserving more land for wildlife. Buy a pair of waders and you can make your own foot bridge. Leave it Wild! WHAT A WASTE OF OUR MONEY!!!!

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424now 5 years, 10 months ago

The bridge is a good Idea. I will use it, along with my Grand Daughter.

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fartpark 5 years, 10 months ago

brownskull--Did you ever consider people that may not be able to wade the river, or disabled people? However lame a public access type of pond may be, there are still many people that have a great time using these facilities. If you don't like the idea, then don't go there.

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LocalHunter 5 years, 10 months ago

I agree with Brownskull, this bridge will destroy more of the habitat for wildlife, public hunting areas, and wetlands than it is usefull. It is not worth it. If a bridge was to be built, it should be built off of the major road by the old gravel pit not from Chuck lewis parking lot or river road.

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deanmoss1 5 years, 10 months ago

I think that this is a great project. The footbridge will accomodate public use of City of Steamboat land (parking lot)and the 101 acre Lafarge gravel pit created into lake which was bought with public and conservation funds. Opening more access to public fishing areas and hunting areas in Routt County will reduce trespassing on private lands which is a growing problem as a result of a growing population of outdoor sports enthusiasts. This project should be completed in conformity with Routt County Planning and DOW/Army Corps of Engineers approval.

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