Donate for the dogs: Steamboat Digs Dogs fundraising for Rita Valentine Park improvements |

Donate for the dogs: Steamboat Digs Dogs fundraising for Rita Valentine Park improvements

Bernie, Rosalie Summerill’s English springer spaniel, sniffs the grass while on an off-leash walk at Rita Valentine Park in May.
Eleanor C. Hasenbeck

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Digs Dogs is working to fetch the dollars needed to improve Rita Valentine Dog Park.

A plan for the park calls for a perimeter fence, an improved parking lot, additional shade and gravel trails in the park. Ahead of construction next spring, Steamboat Digs Dogs is focused on fundraising to complete projects at the park.

“We’re putting our nose to the ground so to speak,” said Steamboat Digs Dogs President Kathy Connell.

She said the organization has raised about $120,000 of its $250,000 goal. 

In May, the city agreed to partner with Steamboat Digs Dogs to pursue grant funding to complete projects at the park.

The project will be phased based on available funding, and some improvements are already in place.

In August, a water fountain was installed at the park for both dogs and their humans. Alpine Bank donated the fountain, and Native Excavating installed it. Gecko Landscape and Design mowed trails in the park to create better walking paths.

Steamboat Digs Dogs also hopes to install another dog waste bag dispenser before winter arrives in force.

“We’ll probably put another bag dispenser up there, just because we’re going through bags so fast,” Connell said.

She said Steamboat Digs Dogs volunteers replace poop bags at the park daily, with 200 to 300 bags going out per day. 

In the spring, Steamboat Digs Dogs will move on to trails, signs and trash cans. The city and Steamboat Digs Dogs plan to revegetate the entryway of the park, where grass has been worn away. The parking lot will be enlarged and paved. Trails will eventually surround the perimeter of the park and link the park to Anglers Drive.

“Come spring, we’ll start immediately on the trail work and improving the trails there,” she said.

Phase 1, as proposed, calls for a fence around the perimeter of the park and an interior fenced space for small dogs, though the fence has received some pushback from community members.

The city is gathering feedback on the proposed fence at

“Steamboat Digs Dogs is taking a neutral position on it,” Connell said, though she added that Steamboat Digs Dogs is considering suggesting a partial fence to barricade the southern area of the park, where land managers are most concerned about wildlife conflict.

Phase 2 would include an additional shade structure, a bathroom and gravel trails in the park.

Donors can give to support the park by donating to the organization’s fund at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation at People can also become a member of Steamboat Digs Dogs by visiting

Steamboat Digs Dogs is also preparing to fundraise for the park through an auction of donated land. Connell said more information about the auction would be released in the coming weeks.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User