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  • Writer's pictureMariel Megan Ross

Chatfield State Park's $160 million make-over

Updated: Mar 9, 2018

Just north of Sterling Ranch, Chatfield State Park is undergoing a massive renovation project that will almost double the size of the reservoir

It's been a long 10 years of planning, but come 2019 Chatfield State Park will look a little different than it does today. The park is currently undergoing a massive $160 million project, known as the Chatfield Storage Reallocation Project, which is driven at least in part by the Denver Metro area's ever-increasing need for more water. The short story is that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that the reservoir can hold about 20,000 additional acre feet of water (the reservoir currently holds 27,000 acre feet of water) - and so here we are, Sterling Ranch residents. We're getting a bigger, improved reservoir and park next door.

The swim beach, boat ramps, marina, day use areas, bridges, and other features will be closed, reconstructed, and then re-opened as water levels rise. The growing reservoir will change the shoreline as well, but don't fret - any trails impacted will be replaced. Also, I took a spin through the plans, and it doesn't appear that Chatfield's amazing 69 acre off-leash dog heaven will be permanently impacted, though you should check Chatfield's Reallocation Project website before you visit just to make sure there are no anticipated road closures or other issues the day you intend to visit.

Chatfield is intent on making sure the environmental impact of the rising water levels is minimized if not negated to the extent possible. For example, a number of trees will obviously be impacted by the project. The good news is that the Colorado State Forest Service is conducting an extensive inventory to identify and mark trees for removal or monitoring as part of the mitigation process. The goal is to conserve as many healthy trees as possible and allow new, indigenous trees the opportunity to re-establish and grow in the park.

One of the issues Chatfield has experienced in recent years is the heavy surface water use by boaters, fishermen, kayakers, paddle boarders, swimmers, and others - and frankly, Chatfield has become a bit crowded if you want to take out a boat on a summer weekend or otherwise enjoy the reservoir on a weekend day. The rising water levels mean that the current 1,400 surface acres of water could grow to 2,000 acres over time. Hopefully that means everyone will be able to enjoy their little slice of water when they visit the reservoir.

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