As further evidence of the BOCC and CPW’s shared commitment to developing a quality recreation site for residents and tourists at the lakes south of Eads, attention is being paid to the boat ramps providing access to Nee Gronda. In this latest project, a second boat ramp is being built next to the one currently in existence.
The reason is obvious to anyone who’s put a boat in the water at that location.
The current ramp is especially helpful to those who have larger boats; however, for those boat owners who prefer a less adrenalin pumping experience, the steep grade of the ramp can be…challenging, at times. With this in mind, the decision was made to construct a second ramp that will provide access to the water in the same location but to design it in such a way that the new ramp is longer and built at a gentler slope. That not only makes it easier—albeit less “exciting”-- to put a boat in the water, it means the rising level of water will reach the new ramp that much more quickly.
Construction of the ramp took roughly two weeks and was completed in January. Half of the cement slab was poured this last week with the second half scheduled to be poured in the near future. At that point, construction will be finished and, once water reaches adequate levels, the ramp will be ready for use.
This latest project is just one on a list of improvements that Kiowa County Commissioners and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife have discussed. Work first began last fall with the removal of several years’ worth of weeds, old growth, overgrowth, tree stumps and Tamarac. (Yup. Talk about a J-O-B) A boat ramp followed, largely because work needed to be done before water levels prevented construction. Additional projects include a parking lot, picnic tables, perhaps an area for bar-b-que pits—the core amenities needed to create a quality, comfortable recreational area to complement those activities associated with the lakes.
These improvements are all taking place on a quarter section of land that was originally purchased by Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development (SECED) and donated to Kiowa County as part of a decades old plan to develop a state park on that site. As most people in this area know, the inability to guarantee “permanent” water in the lakes resulted in the project being, more or less, abandoned. Abandoned, perhaps, but never forgotten. A core of individuals continued to pursue the creation of a recreational site, a goal which became much more feasible with Amity’s recent announcement to divert water from John Martin Reservoir to the Great Plains Reservoirs. However, while 160 acres sounds like a reasonable amount of land to do what needs to be done, the scope of the project is still somewhat limited as half of that acreage will be submerged at high water.
This project is part of a larger vision shared by the BOCC and CPW. Ultimately, in recognition of the diverse interests found among outdoor enthusiasts, people wishing to camp in the Great Plains Reservoirs area will have two choices. One is to enjoy the type of environment just described where conveniences are close at hand. The second choice is for those who prefer “wildland” experiences and the opportunity to hike, fish, watch wildlife and camp in an environment that remains in its natural state. At this point, the plan is for the parking lot area to serve both purposes—one as the “launch site” for boating and the other as the “trailhead” for those who wish to go camping.
As is true in all things, further progress will be somewhat determined by available funding. Colorado Parks and Wildlife paid $4,999 toward completion, to this point, of the new boat ramp. The county will then cover the remaining cost through, primarily, the use of county equipment and the energy and efforts of county employees supplemented by an allocation of funds, when necessary.
However, this is not the only improvement project the county has in its sights. Commissioner McLoud recently applied for a GoCo grant which would fund much needed improvements to the Kiowa County Fairgrounds, including reinforcing the grandstands, installation of new seats and the replacement of the rest rooms immediately to the west of the grandstands with new facilities. If those funds are awarded, she will go in search of other grant opportunities to support the improvements at Nee Gronda. If the fairgrounds GoCo grant is declined, she’ll reapply for GoCo funds to support construction of a recreation site.
In either case, things are most definitely ramping up for the county and those of us who are lucky enough to live here or smart enough to visit.