Roundup River Ranch expansion will accommodate more campers, volunteers | VailDaily.com

Roundup River Ranch expansion will accommodate more campers, volunteers

EAGLE — Roundup River Ranch's proposed expansion got the green light Tuesday when the Eagle County Commissioners unanimously approved the plan.

Camp administrators say they need to expand to accommodate the volunteer staff and campers, including increased medical, administrative and dining space, bigger cabins for wheelchair-bound campers and four additional dwelling units.

The first round will increase the number of campers Roundup River Ranch can accommodate from 120 per week to 144: 12 cabins with 12 campers each.

Wastewater Plant Issues

The hearing was delayed twice, when neighbors complained that the camp's wastewater plant smelled — the rotten-egg smell of hydrogen sulfide. This year's initial complaint was filed in June.

"We have honest neighbors. They say there is a problem, and we're going to work together to solve it," said Ruth Johnson, Roundup River Ranch founder and executive director.

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The gases don't reach a level that would be harmful to human health, but could still be a nuisance odor, according to an engineering report presented by Jessica B. Noegel, an engineer with Aquarius Technologies during Tuesday's hearing.

Neighbor Levi Schofield lives downstream to the south on the Colorado River and is a licensed wastewater facility installer in Colorado and Arizona.

"I am very, very familiar with the gases and smells of wastewater facilities," Schofield said. "The camp is a wonderful place and serves an exceptional purpose. We're asking to improve the sewer smell. It has become truly unbearable.

"I can tell you as a neighbor, and as a wastewater installer, it stinks."

It didn't smell before the camp opened in 2011. Now it does, Schofield said.

Ray Merry, Eagle County's environmental health director, said expanding the camp's facilities won't change that.

"The science is good," Merry said of the engineering report.

Neighbors also said a possible future 7,000-square-foot programming building should be part of this round of expansion requests.

"No one is really opposed to the camp. They can't be, really. But there are operational issues that need to be solved, and they're all solvable," said Chupa Nelson, who owns local construction company RA Nelson.

After the two-hour hearing, the three county commissioners agreed, voting unanimously to approve the expansion plan.

Roundup River Ranch is 85 acres located along the Colorado River on the Colorado River Road, eight miles north of Interstate 70 at Dotsero. It has been operating since 2011.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

About Roundup River Ranch

Local philanthropist Alison Knapp founded Roundup River Ranch in 2006. Knapp took Paul Newman’s vision and dream of bringing a Hole in the Wall Camp (now SeriousFun Children’s Network) to Colorado. Located 50 miles west of Vail, Roundup River Ranch:

• Provides free, year-round programs and camp experiences to children ages 17 and younger with serious illnesses and their families.

• Is affiliated with Children’s Hospital Colorado and other highly regarded medical facilities across the Rocky Mountain region.

• Can be supported and contacted at http://www.roundupriverranch.org or by calling 970-748-9983.