Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has announced plans for the creation of the state’s 43rd state park, a 488-acre property at Sweetwater Lake. The development is a partnership between Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service and Eagle Valley Land Trust.
The White River National Forest acquired the Sweetwater Ranch in Garfield County on Aug. 31, 2021. The partners are currently working on a long-term management plan to improve facilities at the location.
According to a release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, there is little infrastructure in place at the location. Improved facilities such as a new boat launch will be available to the public by June 1, 2022. Additional buildout will follow according to the management plan.
“Colorado Parks and Wildlife is excited to modernize facilities and provide updated and sustainable recreational services through this partnership,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Dan Prenzlow said in a release. “Our main priority is to conserve the unique character of the area while improving access to this incredible property.”
The property had been identified as one of the top 10 Land and Water Conservation Fund purchases nationwide to increase public recreation opportunities as well as protect wildlife habitat and cultural and scenic values, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund purchase followed a 2020 acquisition of the property by The Conservation Fund, which was made possible by local fundraising efforts such as the “Save the Lake” campaign organized by Eagle Valley Land Trust and a loan from Great Outdoors Colorado.
“Sweetwater Lake is simply gorgeous and has great potential for even more recreational opportunities like a campground,” Gov. Polis said in a release. “This is the first of its kind partnership in Colorado to create a state park on U.S. Forest Service land, and we look forward to working with our partners and Coloradans with the ultimate goal of adding Sweetwater Lake to Colorado’s world-class state park system for fun, conservation, education and to support job growth for the region.”