DEL NORTE — The community of Del Norte came out Friday afternoon, Aug. 20, to celebrate the new additions to the Del Norte Riverfront Project and to thank the many people involved in making this long-time dream a reality. The playwave and first initial phase of the Riverfront Park has been completed for just over a year now but due to COVID-19, the celebration had to wait until Friday afternoon.
Community members, guests, partners and members of the Town of Del Norte put the week’s business aside and set out to have a great time in the park. The day started off with a rubber duck race along the Rio Grande. The race was a tradition of the town until recent years. There were several winners who received prizes from Del Norte Town Manager Bernadette Martinez.
“This was really great. It was a great little party we had going on and it was a great way to celebrate our new playwave and park,” Martinez said.
Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project (RGHRP) Executive Director Emma Reesor announced the new Del Norte Playwave open to the public in July of 2020. The playwave, located in the Rio Grande river is part of the Del Norte Riverfront project, a grassroots effort to address community needs like access to the river, recreational opportunities, economic diversity, and to improve the environmental condition of the river corridor.
“From several conversations came the vision of the project, which is to create connectivity between the community of the San Luis Valley and the river,” Reesor said. “By doing that, we created recreation opportunities, improved access and improved the ecological condition of the aquatic and riparian habitat.”
The RGHRP is a local nonprofit organization with the mission to restore the health of the river for all who use it, including ecosystems and wildlife, agriculture, recreation and community safety.
“We accomplish this through partnerships to implement multipurpose projects and the Del Norte Riverfront project is a great example of that,” Reesor said.
The project was identified as a priority in 2008 with the Del Norte Trails masterplan which identified the need for river recreation in the area.
“The Del Norte Trails masterplan identified the important need of the community to have river recreational opportunities and the SLVGO masterplan identified that need as well,” Reesor said. “Those two documents really highlighted that the communities of the Valley wanted to focus on river recreation.”
The playwave is only the beginning of the Riverfront Project which will also include improvements to the River Park, a playground area and picnic pavilion is scheduled to be built soon.
The river is home to several types of aquatic life and the park is an excellent place to access the river through the newly built boat ramp which is located on the North side of the Highway 112 bridge.
Rafters, kayakers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts have already been out on the river this summer, eager to enjoy the new playwave. The playwave is not deep, but parents are advised to supervise their children and exercise caution when they are in the area, as this is still part of a fast-moving river. Water levels can vary from day to day, so it is always best to check weather forecasts and be familiar with river recreation responsibilities before heading out on the water.
Adams State Adventure Program students were also on hand to show the crowd some safety tips for using the playwave and the town provided food from Gosar Sausage, refreshments from Three Barrell Brewing and toys to be used in the river.