Edwards open space will expand | VailDaily.com

Edwards open space will expand

Chris Outcalt
Edwards, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyA landscape plan shows the three phases planned for the Eagle River Preserve in Edwards. The first phase opened a few weeks ago and officials are working on the second phase now. The recession has slowed the project a little, but officials say the entire 72-acres should be open to the public in two or three years.

EDWARDS, Colorado – The first phase of the Eagle River Preserve in Edwards, Colorado has been open for a few weeks. Cliff Simonton, a planner with the county who has worked on the project, has already seen plenty of people taking advantage of the Edwards spot and there’s more on the way.

The county commissioners and members of the Vail Valley Foundation and the Eagle Valley Land Trust had an opening ceremony for 30 acres of the preserve last week and two more sections are in the works. Simonton hopes the entire 72-acre spot will be completely open in two or three years.

The first phase has a walking trail, some wooden benches scattered along the river, a fenced area for dogs to run, access to the Eagle River for fishermen and a small pond.

The walking trail will continue into the second phase of the preserve, which will is designed to be a little more natural and remote.

“The trail system and intensity of use is intended to diminish so it becomes a little more ‘out there,'” Simonton said. “We’re in the process of getting the rest of the topography shaped.”

The preserve had been benefiting from construction projects from around the valley. Contractors were dumping their extra dirt at the preserve for a small fee. Part of the fee goes toward funding the project and the dirt was used to shape the landscape.

But as construction has slowed in the county, fewer trucks have been showing up with dirt, Simonton said.

“We need a lot more dirt to make it work best, but we’ll be able to finish it off even if we don’t get it,” he said. “There were days when there were hundreds of trucks coming into the site, now there’s days where there’s 10 or none.”

The second phase of the project will also have an interpretive center with some classroom space and information about the preserve, Simonton said.

“We would love to have it available for people to get out on in two or three years,” he said. “But what we have is the very best part of it.”

Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or coutcalt@vaildaily.com.

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