Sweetwater Lake will become the newest Colorado state park. (Courtesy of the governor’s office)
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced Wednesday that the land surrounding Sweetwater Lake will become the newest state park through a partnership between Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service.
“Sweetwater Lake is simply gorgeous, and has great potential for even more recreational opportunities like a campground,” Polis said in a statement. “This is the first of its kind partnership in Colorado to create a state park on U.S. Forest Service land, and we look forward to working with our partners and Coloradans with the ultimate goal of adding Sweetwater Lake to Colorado’s world-class state park system for fun, conservation, education, and to support job growth for the region.”
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In August, the White River National Forest acquired the 488-acre Sweetwater Ranch near the border of Garfield and Eagle counties through a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund purchase after the land was identified as a top 10 priority purchase for public recreation opportunities. Before that it was owned by The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit organization the works to protect land.
This new partnership will allow for infrastructure updates and increased public access. Improved facilities, including a new boat launch, are expected to open next summer.
“Colorado Parks and Wildlife is excited to modernize facilities, and provide updated and sustainable recreational services through this partnership. Our main priority is to conserve the unique character of the area while improving access to this incredible property,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Dan Prenzlow.
The Eagle Valley Land Trust, which has raised money and advocated to preserve the area, will also be involved in the partnership. Jessica Foulis, the trust’s executive director, called the partnership “decades in the making.”
Sweetwater Lake will be the second state park established under Polis. Fishers Peak in Trinidad opened last year.
Polis also signed into law this year a measure to establish a “Keep Colorado Wild” pass that will let Colorado residents purchase a discounted annual state parks pass when they register their vehicles beginning in 2023.
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