Sweetwater Lake, located in Garfield County near Dotsero, will be Colorado’s most recent state park.
“Sweetwater Lake is absolutely stunning and holds an incredible potential to create additional recreational opportunities, such as camping facilities,” Governor Polis said Wednesday. “This marks the first collaboration in Colorado to establish an official State Park situated on U.S. Forest Service land We look forward to working together with our partners and fellow Coloradans to achieve the ultimate goal of the addition of Sweetwater Lake to Colorado’s world-class state park system for enjoyment and conservation, as well as education and to help spur employment growth in the region.”
The news comes just 2 months since White River National Forest purchased Sweetwater Lake and the 488 acres of land that surround it. The purchase ensured that the land was reserved to be accessible to the public and would not accessible to residential development.
The announcement of Wednesday’s date was the outcome of a collaboration that was formed between Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Eagle Valley Land Trust (EVLT) and the U.S. Forest Service. EVLT had previously arranged the “Save the Lake” campaign.
“The preservation of Sweetwater Lake is the realization of a vision for the community that has been years in the making,” said EVLT’s executive director Jessica Foulis. “EVLT is looking forward to working closely together with both and working closely with the Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife in moving ahead with our plans to protect Sweetwater Lake.”
According to the office of the governor, Sweetwater Lake will see upgraded facilities before June 1st, 2022. These upgrades will comprise a brand new boat launch. Further modifications will be made after concert with residents.
“Colorado Parks and Wilderness is thrilled to modernize its facilities as well as provide sustainable, modern recreational services as part of this collaboration. Our top priority is to preserve the unique nature of the region, while also improving access to this magnificent nature reserve,” said Dan Prenzlow Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
This is only the second time a state park has been established under the Polis administration. At the same time last year the governor announced Fishers Peak as Colorado’s 42nd state park.
The Forest Service, CPW and Sweetwater community have come up with an unprecedented process to convert private land into a federally-owned, managed by the state. Now , the community is trying to pull out of the process and withdraw backing from the collaboration. Each of the Forest Service and CPW have declared that participation from the community is crucial in the development of the new park.
The community initially had discussed the possibility of a conservation easement for the property when the Eagle Valley Land Trust launched its Save The Lake campaign to raise funds. Then, the White River National Forest stepped into the picture with a plan to submit a request the Land and Water Conservation Fund assistance. In the process, Colorado Parks and Wildlife suggested a partnership along with Forest Service that would direct state funds towards managing the property and in line with Governor. Jared Polis’ ardent push for more state parks.