The McPhee Overlook Trail has received a $32,000 construction grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The 6-mile trail connects Dolores with the House Creek campground and mostly traverses Forest Service land on the mesa northwest of town.
Forest recreation planner Tom Rice said they requested $100,000 in order to nearly complete the trail, but didn’t get the full amount.
“It will get us started,” Rice said, with work expected to begin this year.
But winter skiing, snowshoeing, or snow biking on the trail is unlikely.
Because the grant money is tied to Parks and Wildlife, state wildlife managers reviewed the trail to determine any impact. Wildlife biologist Matt Thorpe said the area is critical winter range for elk, and deserves a winter closure to protect herds that rely on lower elevation areas.
“During winter, they are conserving energy and drop to areas with less snowpack to access limited grazing,” he said. “Increased activity like getting spooked by skiers or chased by a dog threatens their health and survival.”
The seasonal closure will likely be from Dec. 1 through April 15.
Local flight data on area elk show the ratio of mature bulls to cows, and cows to calves, is on a slightly downward trajectory. The reason why is not clear.
New fishing spot
CPW has negotiated with the Tibbits family to improve fishing access in the Dolores Valley.
The Twin Spruce ponds along Colorado 145 will soon be open for public fishing under a lease agreement between the family and CPW. The approximately six ponds seven miles from town will be stocked and managed by CPW and be available for fishing during the day only.
There will be an outhouse and designated parking.
No camping, alcohol or fires will be allowed, and special care will be taken to not block driveways of nearby residents. Dikes between ponds will be fenced to prevent people from driving on them.
“Its a neat opportunity, especially since there is not much public fishing access in that area,” Thorpe said.
CPW also plans to renovate the boat ramp at Narraguinnep Lake this year.
The latest on the marina
A proposed marina at the McPhee boat dock received some interest from three parties after a request for qualifications was issued by the U.S. Forest Service earlier this year. The names or companies were not released.
Recreation planner Tom Rice said the next step is to issue a prospectus on a marina plan and then go through a public bidding process to secure an operator.
“The prospectus includes public facilities such as boat rentals, slips, fuel station and convenience store,” Rice said.
Interest in a marina at the House Creek boat ramp has been expressed by Stan Folsom, and forest officials said they are reviewing the location.
A key component of a practical marina is the 400-foot breakwater, which has been built but hasn’t been installed.
The county is negotiating with Circle Zebra fabricators, of Mancos, to anchor the structure to the lake bed. The company built the breakwater, which is designed to adjust to water levels. The previous marina burned down in 2000, and the breakwater was irreparably damaged and sank.