Best dam dedication |

Best dam dedication

Elkhead event features food, music and speakers

Dan Olsen

If you go

What: Elkhead Dam and Reservoir dedication

Where: West boat ramp

When: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday

Who: Federal, state and local officials

Why: Completion of 2.5 year, $31 million project

— Before selling his boat in 1998, Dave DeRose and his family would make it up to Elkhead Reservoir two to three times a month.

The former Craig mayor recently purchased a new boat, in part because Elkhead has reopened after 2 1/2 years of work to expand the reservoir and dam.

“We actually bought it because Elkhead was opening, and my kid and all of Jim Duran’s kids were coming home to live here, and we thought it would be fun to have a boat for all of us to use,” DeRose said. “But we wouldn’t have bought it if Elkhead wasn’t reopening.”

Although Elkhead Dam and Reservoir has been open for public use for months, the official dedication is set for Wednesday.

The Colorado River Water Conservation District, in cooperation with the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, is sponsoring the event. The Kiwanis Club will kick off the gathering with a barbecue fundraiser beginning at 4:30 p.m.

The dedication takes place at 6 p.m. and will feature guest speakers Harris Sherman, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Carol DeAngelis with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Tom Iseman with the Nature Conservancy, Bill Trampe and Dan Birch with the Colorado River District.

The event will take place at the boat ramp on the west side of the reservoir. Music will be provided by the Yampa Valley Boys.

City of Craig officials will be in attendance, as well as representatives from Colorado State Parks.

The expansion project doubled the size of the reservoir at a cost of $31 million. The Colorado River District funded $17.8 million of the dam expansion and managed the project.

The recovery program funded the remaining $13.2 million, with a portion of the additional water being used to augment flows in the Yampa River to benefit the endangered fish.

As the largest tributary to the Green River, the Yampa has been designated as critical habitat for the rare fish downstream from Craig.

Five thousand acre-feet of newly available water will be used for human consumption, sustaining future growth in Moffat and Routt counties.

A letter from Gov. Bill Ritter states Elkhead’s expansion will directly benefit residents, industry and wildlife, while creating public recreational amenities for Coloradans.

Part of a $200,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado will be put to use constructing day-use trails around the lake, as the rising water claimed many trails and bridges.

Shade shelters at the boat dock area also will be purchased with GOCo grant money. The Elkhead Dam and Reservoir expansion is one of several actions included in a management plan for the Yampa River Basin developed by federal, state and local organizations that addresses projected water needs in the basin through the year 2045.

“I think it’s a great thing for the community,” DeRose said. “It’s a great recreational tool. : It’s a lot of fun. It’s a nice place.”

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