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Open Space sets goals for repairs to flood-damaged parks

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Volunteers sought to assist with efforts

By Sandy Barnes

With help from volunteers, Apex Park may be partially open to hikers and bikers by this spring, according to a timeline established by the staff at Jeffco Open Space.

The park in Golden has been closed since September, when flooding caused extensive trail damage. Other parks in the Jeffco Open Space system, which also were severely impacted, are slated for repairs in the coming months.

“We have determined deadlines,” Stanton LaBreche, Jeffco parks operations manager, told the Open Space Advisory Committee on Jan. 9. “We plan to have all trails open by Sept. 30.”

At Apex Park, staff and volunteers are planning to rebuild trails, including Pick-N-Sledge, Grubstake, Argos and Bonanza, in the first phase of the recovery program. Phase two includes repairs to the Apex, Hardscrabble and Sluicebox trails.

Other flood-recovery efforts planned for the first quarter of the year include restoration of trails at White Ranch, North Table Mountain, Lookout Mountain Nature Preserve, Welchester Tree Grant and Van Bibber parks. By June 30, many of these trails should be open for use, as well as those at Elk Meadow, Alderfer/Three Sisters, South Valley and Grant Terry Trail at Clear Creek Canyon Park. 

By the third quarter of 2014, all repairs to Lair O’ the Bear, White Ranch and North Table Mountain parks are scheduled for completion, according to the timeline.

“Our first priority is taking care of all damage from the flood,” Tom Hoby, director of Jeffco Parks and Open Space, said during a discussion of 2014 goals. 

The popular Lair O’ the Bear Park along Highway 74 in Bear Creek Canyon was among those initially closed after the flooding. However, with assistance from volunteers, it reopened in November. Those who walk and ride through the park encounter trail closures and fenced-off areas along the creek banks. Many trails in other parks also remain inaccessible for use, including areas at White Ranch and North Table Mountain Park where volunteers recently have been working.

To pay for the park repairs, which are estimated at $605,000, Jeffco Open Space has applied for funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If approved, FEMA would pay for 75 percent of the cost.

LaBreche said that Open Space is also applying for a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to offset expenses.

According to preliminary estimates, between 45,000 and 50,000 hours of workforce time, and material costs ranging from $100,000 to $150,000, will be needed to complete repairs to the parks. 

The county is planning to hire contractors to assist with repair projects but is also in need of volunteers. Opportunities are posted on the Jeffco Open Space website, jeffco.us/parks/ and at http://eventbrite.com.

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com.