Comments sought on Trail River Ranch Education Center proposal | SkyHiNews.com

Comments sought on Trail River Ranch Education Center proposal

Just over a fortnight is left for folks to comment on the proposed Trail River Ranch Education Center.

The National Park Service (NPS) is taking comments from the public regarding a proposal to establish Trail River Ranch in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) as an education center for the west side of the park.

Bonnie Severson provided some background details on the proposal. Severson was the Committee Chair for the Friends of Trail River Ranch until January, when she stepped down from the position and Grand Lake Mayor Judy Burke began her tenure.

Trail River Ranch was the summer home of Betty Dick, who passed away in 2006. The property lies within the Kawuneeche Valley where the Colorado River meets Bowen and Baker Creeks. It was homesteaded in 1914 before the establishment of RMNP in 1915. In 2009 the Friends of Trail River Ranch committee was formed and through coordination with RMNP the group was able to begin using the facility with a special use permit from the NPS.

For the last several years the Friends of Trail River Ranch have used the site for various educational activities and community focused events. They have done so in coordination with the Rocky Mountain Conservancy (RMC) under the auspices of the special use permit. The RMC is a non-profit philanthropic organization that works specifically with RMNP and oversees numerous projects in the park as well as the administration of the Rocky Mountain National Park Fund.

Last summer the organization adopted the Friends of Trail River Ranch into their organization as an official committee. After adoption a more comprehensive plan for using Trail River Ranch was sent to Park Planning for RMNP. The plan calls for Trail River Ranch to become an education facility for the west side of the park.

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The Friends of Trail River Ranch committee is already hard at work developing plans for possible uses for the facility in the event the proposal, which includes eight acres of land, is approved. They plan to continue their annual family fly fishing event, done in conjunction with the Colorado Headwaters chapter of Trout Unlimited and are looking at conducting more writer's retreats like the one recently held in partnership with Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge.

Comments on the Trail River Ranch proposal may be submitted officially to RMNP by going to http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=94&projectID=56595&documentID=63606, and clicking on the "Comment Now" button.

A number of comments have already been received by the NPS regarding the proposal including one from Margaret Browniee, a second-home owner in Grand Lake.

"The repurposing of the amazing Trail River Ranch property is a wonderful idea," her comment states. "The property has such positive meaning to the citizens of Grand Lake and Grand County and will help to create a sense of belonging and inclusion which has been lacking to the denizens of the western slope."

Other entities partnering with Friends of Trail River Ranch besides the RMC and RMNP include: the Town of Grand Lake, the Grand Lake Historical Society, the Grand Lake Metropolitan Rec District, Rotary of Grand Lake, the Grand County Tourism Board, and many more.

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