Ike’s name may adorn Fraser River reach
April 19, 2012
FRASER – A stretch of the Fraser River through the town of Fraser could be designated the “Eisenhower Memorial Reach” if a resolution passes on the House floor at the state Capitol.
State Rep. Randy Baumgardner (R-Cowdrey), is sponsering the bill that could authorize the Colorado Department of Transportation to accept and expend gifts, grants, donations and federal funds for sign placement on US Highway 40 in downtown Fraser, directing motorists to the river’s newly designated “point of interest.”
The effort to designate the Fraser River’s two-mile stretch from the bridge-crossing at Rendezvous Road to the bridge-crossing at County Road 8 was spearheaded by the Grand County chapter of Trout Unlimited. TU plans to pay for additional signage to direct visitors to the Eisenhower statue along the river and to talk about the river designation, according to chapter president Kirk Klancke of Fraser.
The designation, Klancke said, “is to draw attention to the fact that the Fraser River is a pristine environment, pristine enough to have drawn the leader of the free world back in the ’50s.”
Naming this reach of the Fraser after 34th president Dwight David Eisenhower makes a “historical and political statement,” Klancke said.
River advocates hope the resolution highlights “what’s being sacrificed for the sake of municipal water supplies,” he said.
Fraser River water is the target of a Moffat Firming Project proposed by Denver Water. The firming project is poised to raise to 80 percent the portion of the river’s natural flows diverted to the metro area.
“We want them to know what is worth saving. These are presidential waters, plain and simple,” Klancke said.
According to a draft of the resolution, Eisenhower first made his way to Byers Peak Ranch in the Fraser Valley as late as 1952 and returned each year until his heart attack in 1955. Eisenhower enjoyed fishing in the Fraser River and its tributary St. Louis Creek, which he referred to as his “home water” when visiting Colorado.
While in Colorado, Eisenhower conducted official business such as signing multiple bills into law, thereby leading the Fraser Valley to become known as his “Western White House.”
Dedicating this stretch of river to the president would be the latest action following $800,000-worth of river-restoration and trails improvements the towns of Fraser and Winter Park achieved from 2004 to 2006, with the help of a $457,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant. The project forged the Fraser River trail, added interpretive signs and viewing scopes and improved the aquatic habitat within the river reach, punctuated by a statue of Eisenhower erected and dedicated along the river on Aug. 9, 2008.
The resolution is set to be heard on the House floor by as early as next week.
Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603