Click the link to read the article on the Craig Daily Press website (Amber Delay). Here is an exerpt :
Craig received $3.3 million in economic development administration assistance for coal communities for the construction of the Yampa River Corridor Project. The Corridor Project is the result of a multi-year planning process with local agencies designed to stabilize and diversify the economy in Craig and Moffat counties following the closure of coal mines and the power plant. The city and county worked together to secure this federal funding for the project, which will improve the city’s water intake infrastructure, as well as add new amenities for visitors along the river.
EDA funding will cover approximately 70% of project costs, which were estimated at $4.6 million this year. Yampa River Corridor project manager Melanie Kilpatrick said counterpart partners are committed to funding the rest of the project, and the only variable may be inflation, which has affected other projects over the years. .
The corridor project includes several upgrades to Loudy Simpson Park, including a new concrete boat launch, access road and parking area, as well as upgrading the existing diversion dam site with a whitewater park, access road, parking area and park facilities. According to a statement from Kilpatrick, the project fits into Craig’s master plan for parks, recreation, open spaces and trails. It also aligns with the Moffat County Vision 2025 transition plan, which outlines proactive strategies to help the community transition from a coal-centric economy.
The objective of EDA funding is to support economic resilience by diversifying the region’s economic base. The idea is that having an outdoor recreational facility so close to town will entice more visitors to spend time in town, creating a ripple effect on the local economy. As visitors bring money back to tourism, the employees who serve those tourists then spend money on other goods and services in town. There have been studies in other communities where similar projects have taken place to measure the economic impact of whitewater parks.
Good Vibes River Gear and Craig RV Park, local employers whose businesses would directly benefit from the growth of river tourism, have pledged to add more than 30 new full-time employees. And it is estimated that the project will create around 129 new jobs in direct and adjacent industries…
The existing City of Craig water intake diversion dam is a 200 foot wide and 10 foot high barrier made of concrete block and rip rap. Kilpatrick said in a statement that the existing diversion is in poor condition and needs updating. In its current state, the diversion can also pose a hazard to boaters and it blocks the passage of many species of fish, several of which are federally listed endangered species. Replacing the current diversion dam with a natural channel design will allow the city to continue to draw its allocated water from the river and improve boater safety and fish passage year-round.
“It supports the city’s water supply in a fiscally responsible way. It’s extremely important to us,” Kilpatrick said. “We’re getting better fish passage and healthier aquatic and riparian habitat. We get better access to the river. And we get the economic development associated with whitewater recreation.