Eagle welcomes new boat ramp | VailDaily.com

Eagle welcomes new boat ramp

Visitors at Eagle's Chambers Park check out the new boat ramp amenity Thursday morning. The new ramp, along with improvements to create an eddy takout area, were completed this spring with grant funding from Greater Outdoors Colorado. The project's ribbon cutting and celebration is planned this Saturday, May 30 at the Eagle River Jam and Community BBQ, scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. Free floats, food and more will be on tap.

EAGLE — Sometimes the same things that make life safer can also make things more fun. The new Eagle boat ramp is a case in point.

Located at Chambers Park in Eagle, the new boat ramp addressed a proven safety issue while also giving recreational boats a great amenity.

"Downstream from the new ramp is Rodeo Rapids, which are actually immediately after the takeout. They are pretty dangerous, Class 4 rapids which were created when Interstate 70 was built," said Eagle Open Space Coordinator John Staight. "Vail Mountain Rescue has had to respond to the area in the past and there was even a fatality there."

For several years, Eagle has eyed creation of a boat ramp at the Chambers Park area to address the concern and to give rafters and kayakers an alternative river exit point. In addition to the concrete boat ramp, boulders have been placed in the river to create an eddy that provides a stretch of calm water leading to the takeout.

“We will hopefully start putting Eagle on the map, as far at boating goes.”John StaightCoordinator, Eagle Open Space

What's more, the pull out is located right next to the town's visitor information center, the Eagle County Historical Society Museum and the lush greenery of Chambers Park. Staight said a number of crafts from commercial companies have already been spotted, checking out the new takeout.

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"Last week I spoke to a couple of fishermen who had floated the Eagle River from Wolcott. They had never floated the stretch before and they raved about what a nice park it was and what a great float it was and what a great takeout it was," Staight said.

GOCO grant

On Saturday, the Eagle River Jam and Backyard BBQ event will celebrate the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the new facility. The celebration will include a couple of honored guests — Tom Burke, a Greater Outdoors Colorado board member, and Jake Houston, GOCO local government coordinator. GOCO funding helped make the project possible.

Staight's successful GOCO grant application for $41,015 paid for half of the boat ramp project. The other half of the project, which served as matching funds required by the grant, was paid by the Eagle Open Space fund.

"Believe it or not, competition for smaller grants like this one is actually much tougher than for the very large grants," Staight said. "This is because every GOCO grant requires matching funding from the local government which is applying. Organizations that have very large open space budgets, such as Eagle County, can provide matches in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. However, there are a lot of more smaller jurisdictions like Eagle out there that can only match smaller grant amounts, and thus the competition is stiffer."

S20 Engineering designed the project and B&B Excavating built it.

"Both companies did a fantastic job," Staight said. "The project included not just the boat ramp, but changing the river hydraulics so that a new eddy was created allowing boaters to paddle to the ramp safely. There was more to it than meets the eye."

Staight added that the improved river access is another piece in Eagle's efforts to attract more recreation based tourism.

"We will hopefully start putting Eagle on the map, as far at boating goes," he said.

If you go …

What: Eagle River Jam and Backyard BBQ

When: Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.

Where: Chambers Park, located at the Eagle Regional Visitor Information Center

Details: Loads of free activities including raft float trips, food, music by Thumper, lawn games, fly casting clinics, kayak demos and more. The official ribbon cutting is planed at 1 p.m. For more information visit http://www.eagleriverjam.com.

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