Local park to be restored | SteamboatToday.com

Local park to be restored

Eagle Scout's wildlife refuge project faces improvements

Kristi Mohrbacher

— A wildlife refuge built as an Eagle Scout project and impacted by ongoing construction at Sixth Street and Yampa Avenue will be restored, a city official said Thursday.

The area along Butcherknife Creek at Seventh Street and Yampa Avenue is a protected riparian wetland created by Nathan Proper, then 13, in 1999. It took him three years to raise $29,000 – through donations and grants from local groups and companies – and another year to construct the area with the help of 50 to 60 volunteers, Proper said Thursday.

“It was a peaceful and quiet place, but now our ecosystem and river have been impacted by construction,” Proper said.

The park site is adjacent to the Alpenglow development.

Riparian wetlands compose 1 percent of the Earth’s surface and support wildlife such as the brown trout, native aquatic life and birds. The area at Butcherknife Creek acts as a natural filter for runoff from downtown – reducing pollutants – before the water flows into the Yampa River, Proper said.

Chris Wilson, the city’s director for Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services, said the Parks and Recreation Committee – the same committee that approved Proper’s request to build the wetland habitat – approved plans for Alpenglow contingent upon restoration of any damage that might be caused during construction.

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Wilson said that to receive a certificate of occupancy for the project, Jim Cook, developer for Colorado Group Realty in charge of Alpenglow, would have to prove that the riparian wetland had been restored to its original form.

The final application for Alpenglow submitted to the city planning department by Cook reads, “Great care will be provided in maintaining and improving the riparian areas of Butcherknife Creek that were restored by local Boy Scout Troops in conjunction with Friends of the Yampa. The developer will further grade down the existing bank at the north end of the creek bank to create a more effective run off filtration area.”

“We had meetings with Friends of the Yampa and others before construction even began,” Cook said. “We’ve built around the park and are putting in a more aesthetically pleasing fence instead of that old chain one.”

Cook explained that a retention pond was added to the area to catch runoff from the roof of the nearby condominiums and filter it before the water flowed into Butcherknife Creek.

“If there’s any damage there, it’s on our property,” Cook said.

Wilson said the area has to be re-seeded and restored by the time the developer requests the certificate.

Cook plans to request the certificate of occupancy Wednesday for Alpenglow.

“I’m just worried about the health of our river,” Proper said. “The river can’t speak for itself so somebody needs to.”