Steamboat Lake gets state funding to build 2nd indoor facility
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis appropriated $20 million of the state general fund last week for capital improvements for increased access at certain state parks, including Steamboat Lake State Park in North Routt.
This conservation-focused legislation will help direct funds to outdoor projects in Colorado that protect public lands and expand outdoor recreation opportunities in the state, according to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Julie Arington, park manager at Steamboat Lake State Park, said while she is not sure how much money the park will receive, they plan to use whatever they get to help build a second indoor facilities building with bathrooms and showers. The park currently only has one, and Arington said it often gets dirty, and campers are forced to wait in long lines when trying to use it.
“This will make a better customer experience for our visitors and also make it easier for our staff to keep it clean,” Arington said. “Grants are highly competitive and with all the state parks across the state, it can be difficult to take care of all the state parks, so this is an amazing opportunity.”
Todd Zvorak, president of the Steamboat Lake Snow Club, said Steamboat Lake was already one of the busiest state parks in Colorado, and continued visitation will keep putting strains on its facilities, which is why the grant funding is vital.
“Things that are going to enhance the amenities there are going to be beneficial,” Zvorak said.
Colorado state parks saw dramatic increases in park attendance during COVID-19, and Arington said Steamboat Lake was no exception.
“Our visitation has continued to grow every year, and I think we’re going to continue to grow every year,” she said. “We’re seeing an overall trend in all outdoor recreation, but I think COVID kind of fast forwarded us into the future, so we’re seeing a higher rate of increased visitation.”
Kris Middledorf, Colorado Parks and Wildlife area manager based in Steamboat Springs, said the grant going to Steamboat Lake is fitting, as it offers a mix of both summer and winter recreation.
“It’s absolutely imperative to be able to have funding for our state parks for maintenance, development and being able to provide that sustainable outdoor recreation opportunity for locals and for our visitors,” Middledorf said.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, state parks usage grew by 2.2 million visitor days from the 2014-15 state fiscal year and a further 30% during the spring of 2020.
“Throughout the pandemic, we watched our Colorado community flock to our state parks in record numbers for solace and the mental and health benefits associated with spending time outdoors,” Polis said in a news release.
The increase in park visitation proves the importance of outdoor spaces to Coloradans, “and our collective need to invest in preserving and improving our state park system so our human use does not overwhelm our state’s natural resources,” he said.
This increased funding will provide additional access and recreational opportunities that connect people to the outdoors and protect Colorado’s landscapes.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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