Eagle-area residents can help change Sylvan Lake State Park’s future | VailDaily.com

Eagle-area residents can help change Sylvan Lake State Park’s future

EAGLE — It is possible for a place to become too popular for its own good. Think of Hanging Lake as an example.

It can be a difficult balancing act trying to accommodate what the public wants while still protecting the values that make a locale special. That's the task ahead for Sylvan Lake State Park.

The park is located approximately 10 miles southeast of Eagle and attracts thousands of overnight and day use visitors. The site includes a mountain lake, fishing, non-motorized water sports, cabins, yurts, campsites, picnic areas, camping support services including restrooms, showers and a visitor center.

The staff from Sylvan Lake will meet tonight with residents to discuss the park's management plan. That plan will "consider whether infrastructure changes or new recreational facilities are needed to preserve high quality visitor experiences into the future while conserving the park's natural setting and wildlife habitat, important for a number of species."

That's a tall order for a place that is basically fully booked throughout the summer and attracts large numbers of day users throughout the year.

Sylvan Lake State Park Manager Mike Wall noted that revenues at the park last year increased by 25 percent. Because the main revenue stream for the park is user fees, that's a pretty accurate gauge of activity increases at the park.

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"In the summertime, we are at capacity more often that not," said Dani Neumann, an administrative assistant at the park. She noted that park reservations open up six months in advance and fill up quickly.

"For instance, today is a Tuesday in the middle of June and we are 100 percent full," Neumann said.

Recreation options

At tonight's meeting, participants will cycle through a number of stations presenting development options and management ideas for the park. Wall and Neumann both stressed that any new recreation development would be modest in scope.

"At Colorado Parks and Wildlife our mission is conservation and the park is also recreation based," Neumann said. "We want public input about what locals want up here and what development they don't want to see."

While the park covers a broad swath across east and west Brush Creek, Wall noted that conservation areas within the park limit where facilities can be expanded and what could be built.

"There is not a lot of future facilities we could put in and still make it feel like a state park," Wall said.

The undisturbed mountain meadows at Sylvan Lake State Park are a vital part of the locale, said park staff.

"We are proud of our pristine environment and our excellent wildlife habitat," Neumann said.

Future development options do include a new yurt site, a large group day use picnic area and a camping area geared specifically to anglers. Wall is also interested to hear from the public about carrying capacity limitations.

"Would people rather have a carrying capacity or are they OK with shoulder-to-shoulder fishermen?" Wall said. "That's one example of what we want to hear from people."

Sharing information

Along with hearing from the public regarding preferences for Sylvan Lake State Park management, tonight's session will share information about the park's history and its immediate future. Wall noted that in 2018, the Sylvan Lake dam is due for replacement and that project will have a big impact on visitors next summer.

Wall said the combination of giving members of the public a chance to share thoughts about future development while also educating them about the park is a way to engage people in the preservation of Sylvan Lake State Park.

"This is a really special place. We all want to keep it that way," Wall concluded.

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