DEL NORTE- Those traveling to and from Del Norte may have noticed the equipment and massive hole that was being dug in the Rio Grande River on the north side of town along Highway 112 as construction crews worked to finish the first phase of the River Walk Project that has been underway since October.
According to reports from project manager Marty Asplin the wave has been completed and will be in use by next summer. Crews had to wait to complete this phase of the project when water levels dropped to their annual low in order to get down to the bedrock in the river and begin constructing the wave.
Phase one of the design will include a boat ramp, access road, parking area, hardened river access point, a low-profile multiuse play wave with fish passage, ADA accessible picnic area, enhancement of the aquatic habitat and restoration of riparian habitat. Local organizations are in the process of raising the money to complete Phase 1 and have secured $225,000 so far for the project.
The land where the river walk project will be built is located north of North Park and is owned by the Town of Del Norte and the Del Norte Trails organization. The project began as an effort to bring people to the area and utilize one of Del Norte’s most beneficial attributes; the Rio Grande River. Asplin stated in a meeting in March that the project would put people in contact with the river that is the lifeblood of the San Luis Valley.
Now, with the plans in place, approval by the Army Corps of Engineers and the public comment period in the books, the beginning of phase one is almost complete. Riverbend Engineering was hired to oversee the project and they hope to have the wave open for use summer 2020 after the spring runoff.
The project was funded through private donations and several grants, one of which was a game changer early on in the project when Great Outdoors Colorado awarded the project $350,000. Other grants that helped fund the total project included $190,000 from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, $35,000 from the Laura Jane Musser Fund, $62,500 from the SLV Conservation Connection Initiative, $20,000 from Rio Grande County, $5,000 from Del Norte Bank, $10,000 from private donations and several in-kind donations from the Town of Del Norte which gives the project $750,000 in funding.
The project is geared toward reintroducing the public to the river and allows for easier access for a wide variety of recreation and to aid in revitalizing the local aquatic habitat for several species of animals and fish. In the design of the play wave, engineers made sure to complete the project in a way that had little to no damage to native aquatic life, and in fact, helped to improve the native habitat while providing recreational opportunities for public use.