A map of the Sam Caudill State Wildlife Area near Glenwood Springs.

County grants $60,000 for boat ramp improvements

CPW making upgrades at Sam Caudill SWA along the Roaring Fork River

March 22, 2024

Garfield County has granted Colorado Parks and Wildlife $60,000 from its Conservation Trust Fund toward improvements at the Sam Caudill State Wildlife Area (SWA) boat ramp on the Roaring Fork River between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. The popular boat ramp is located off Old Highway 82 (County Road 154), just adjacent to the old Hardwick Bridge.

Improvements include a staging area for boaters, excavation and embankment upgrades, erosion control, and more. The initial project bid includes $223,850 in improvements, plus another $60,000 for an optional boulder rock wall and aggregate base.

CPW Area 8 Assistant Wildlife Manager Darren Chacon told the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) that after speaking with Garfield County Road and Bridge staff, CPW is looking to extend the parking spaces to provide more buffer space from the roadway.

“We’re making various improvements to the boat ramp,” Chacon explained. “There’s going to be one-way entry and a staging area, which we hope will lessen a lot of the traffic and safety issues we have on County Road 154.”

Commissioner John Martin noted that the public has complained there are not restrooms at the site.
“There’s one thing missing,” he said. “Restrooms. That has always been the most frequent complaint. What are we going to do about that? With kids running around, they always need a restroom, and the Westbank residents will really appreciate that.”

Chacon told the board that CPW plans to place portable restrooms at the site. He added that construction is slated for August 15 and will run into September.

The funding was approved unanimously, 2-0, with Commissioner Tom Jankovsky excused from the meeting.

Collared wolves moving through the region
CPW provided the board with a report highlighting areas of wolf activity based on radio collar data since relocation began in late December 2023. The data is recorded every four hours and transmitted to CPW research staff every 16 hours.

Matt Yamashita, CPW area 8 wildlife manager, told the board that the maps indicate watersheds that the animals have traveled in, and do not necessarily mean they have physically been to every spot within.

“The way that map functions is that if any activity is recorded in any of those watersheds, then it highlights the entire watershed,” he said. “So, even if they touch just a corner of it or one point for one day, then it highlights the entire drainage.”

He added that there were 10 collared wolves released in December, and two existing collared wolves already residing in Jackson County prior to that release.

Kirk Oldham, CPW area wildlife manager – Grand Junction, noted that the map is updated every fourth Wednesday of the month, and it includes the last 30 days of location information. Yamashita added that movement patterns vary greatly, from loitering in one spot for a while to moving a great distance in a short amount of time.

“Just when we start to predict what their movement will be, they prove us wrong,” he said. “The one constant with wildlife management is that everything is unpredictable. It’ll look like they’re heading in a certain direction, and we try and forecast where they’re going to land. Internally, we make an assumption or prediction, thinking, ‘do we need to prepare and notify a community or landowners?’ and the next set of points come out and that animal has turned 180 degrees and is now 15 to 20 miles in the opposite direction.”

Yamashita added that there are no known dens or offspring at this time, but it’s the season that the animals start searching for den sites.

“It’s unknown if and when that will occur, but we’ll probably know more within the next two months,” he said.