With funding from Forever Our Rivers, a new boat ramp offers easy access to the Gunnison River in Colorado. For those who don’t know, nearly one-third of kids live in poverty on Colorado’s Western Slope. Usually, this cascades into a lack of time in nature and its life-enriching benefits, making our hearts sad. Thankfully, a new boat ramp will be a game-changer for the people of Delta, Montrose and Olathe. After all, the rivers are for all of us.

And for those skeptics worried that a new boat ramp might harm the environment, don’t worry! Native trees and shrubs were planted along the river banks, creating a beautiful new area ideal for leisurely walks, picnics, birding and a genuine connection with nature. Plus, local volunteers were entrusted with the responsibility of looking after this spot, giving them the knowledge of how to keep it in tip-top shape.

Bridging Gaps for Underserved Communities

The strategically located boat ramp project along G50 Road, just 3.5 miles from Delta’s town boat ramp, expands accessibility to new demographics. Prior to the installation of the new boat ramp, river users accessed the Gunnison River from the Confluence Park boat ramp in Delta. However, the next legal exit point downstream was a whopping 14 miles away. While this might sound like an adventurous day out for some, it could be overwhelming and unsafe for those with less river experience. The creation of a shorter float with official put-ins and take-outs now allows families and beginners to enjoy a safer river experience. And hopefully, as they experience and enjoy the river, they will fall in love with and care for it.

Not into floating? The improved access area is a great place for walks, lunches, reading, drawing or other outdoor activities you might enjoy along a river. This transformation is thanks to dozens of students from Paonia and Delta middle schools and community volunteers. They helped cultivate and plant cottonwood and plum trees, as well as alders and willows. As the new plants grow, it will become increasingly special for birdwatching. Which, by the way, is just as good for you mentally as being on the water! More volunteers are always welcome, so if you want to help the new cottonwood and willows survive, reach out to some key players in this project—Libby at Colorado West Land Trust (CWLT) or Jake at the Western Slope Conservation Center (WSCC). 

“The new G50 Boat Ramp project is a great example of generating greater recreation access to nature while enhancing wildlife habitat. We look forward to the collaboration of bringing more folks of all ages together to enjoy the river and help with restoring the native plants,” exclaims Libby, program manager at CWLT.

Collaboration Is Key

The property on which the picnic area and boat ramp are is owned by Delta County and protected with a conservation easement managed by CWLT. “Restoring riparian ecosystems is extremely important for sustaining rivers and wildlife in western Colorado. The G50 project provides an excellent opportunity to connect the community to the Gunnison River and help re-establish vital habitat”, said Jake. Knowing this land could do so much more for people and wildlife, WSCC, along with CWLT and the county, got to work.

A Lasting Impact

The G50 Boat Ramp and Habitat Improvement Project, fueled by funding from Forever Our Rivers, is sure to have a positive impact on the community. As more people come to know the Gunnison River, more people will learn to cherish it. How’s that for jump-starting some environmental love? We are so proud of these local organizations. They successfully demonstrated the power of collaboration, conservation and community. We definitely love that!

Delta County is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebration this spring. While the date is yet to be determined, stay connected with these organizations—info below. Or contact Delta County if you’d like more details.

If you’re interested in supporting other projects like the G50 Boat Ramp, please give today.

Follow the Western Slope Conservation Center on Instagram and Facebook. Follow Colorado West Land Trust on social, too—Instagram and Facebook.