DEL NORTE — The reach of the Rio Grande running through North Park has seen a lot of change in the last two months. Workers and machinery from Robins Construction have braved the elements as part of a plan to improve access to one of Del Norte’s most valuable natural resources.
North Park is one of the few public parks in Del Norte, situated on the Rio Grande just west of Highway 112. While featuring a fishing dock and riverside trail, the community thought more could be done to better connect residents to the river.
From this need arose the Del Norte Riverfront Project a community-led effort to improve access, create recreation infrastructure, and enhance wildlife habitat on the Rio Grande adjacent to North Park. Project partners, including the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project,
Town of Del Norte, Del Norte Trails Organization, Riverbend Engineering and Trout Unlimited have worked with the public over the past five years to plan and fundraise for the DNRFP.
Phase 1 of the DNRFP was completed during the winter of 2018 and included a new boat ramp and parking area located on the north side of the river.
In March of 2019, the DNRFP was selected to receive funding from Great Outdoors Colorado’s Local Parks and Outdoor Recreation grant program.
It was one of 22 projects chosen to receive funding in a highly competitive pool of projects.
This grant, along with support from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Gates Family Foundation, SLV Conservation and Connection Initiative, Del Norte Bank, Rio Grande County, and community donors, helped realize Phase 2 of the project, which includes the in-stream construction of a boating Play Wave, fish habitat improvements and passage, and river access points.
Work on these structures began in November 2019 and will be complete in early 2020.
Still yet to come this spring is an ADA accessible picnic area, as well as other park amenities. All these improvements will help promote a deeper connection to the river for residents and visitors alike.
Emma Reesor, Executive Director of the RGHRP, has been integral in the planning and fundraising for the project, and is excited to see construction in full swing. “It’s been a joy to work with the community of Del Norte to make this vision a reality” Reesor said, “Improving connectivity between people and rivers will have a positive effect on the community as a whole”.
Marty Asplin with the Del Norte Trails Organization has been a part of the DNRFP from the very beginning and worked hard to bring partners together to benefit Del Norte. “The addition of access to the Rio Grande was part of the Del Norte Trails Master Plan which was adopted by the Town of Del Norte and Rio Grande County in 2007,” said Marty Asplin, “accomplishing this is a large piece of the plan.”
If you’d like to check out the progress of the project, the fishing dock is a great place to view the construction.
To learn more about the DNRFP, contact Reesor at [email protected] or visit www.riograndeheadwaters.org.
Report courtesy of Emma Reesor, Executive Director, Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project.