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Chatfield State Park’s swim beach closed for the summer

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By Deborah Swearingen

The swim beach at Chatfield State Park, a popular summer spot in South Jeffco, will not open for the 2018 season due to construction delays with the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project.

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“They’re still working there, but they ran into some soil issues,” said Scott Roush, Chatfield State Park manager. “That’s the one piece that’s not going to open this summer.”

Many residents are unhappy about this. Roush understands the disappointment but said the project team made the decision to ensure the project was fully complete before reopening the swim beach.

“We want to make sure that it’s done right,” he said.

Tom Browning, general manager of the Chatfield Reservoir Mitigation Company, had similar thoughts and said postponing opening the swim beach is a smart decision.

“That will help make sure that when new parking lots and new buildings (are built) that they can be constructed in a way that won’t create problems down the road,” he said.

Additionally, Jamison Day Use area is behind schedule. The project team said it should reopen in early July.

Other parts of the park have reopened or are scheduled to reopen on schedule. The North Boat Ramp reopened on April 1. The Massey Draw and Deer Creek day-use areas, as well as the hot air balloon launch site, are scheduled to open Tuesday. Eagle Cove is set to open May 15. Perimeter Road, which is currently closed on portions of the west side of the reservoir, will open to the public for Memorial Day weekend and will remain open for the summer. The Catfish Flats and Fox Run day-use areas are anticipated to open July 27.

Work on the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project began in early December and is scheduled to be complete in 2020. The entire park, however, should be open for recreational use next summer. Chatfield Reservoir was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1975 to control flooding. Due to the growing demand for water along the Front Range, the Army Corps and other participants in the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project studied the pros and cons of adding water storage to the reservoir. According to the project team, the Army Corps approved up to 20,600 acre-feet of additional water storage after two decades of study and evaluation. They plan to use the water for municipal, industrial, agricultural, recreational and environmental uses.

Many question whether the project is environmentally smart, and the Audubon Society of Greater Denver has been fighting it for years. Of several ideas to increase water supply, Denver Audubon feels the reallocation team chose the most damaging one. The organization says the state will lose cottonwood forests, wetlands and free-flowing streams — all of which are essential for wildlife and heavily used by recreationists.

Chatfield attracts 1.6 million visitors each year and provides park-goers with a sliver of nature just outside a major metropolitan area.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.