The Great Outdoors Fund (TGOF) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) San Luis Valley Field Office in Colorado are teaming up to fund and construct a notable project in the Rio Grande Natural Area. The project will enhance equitable access and recreation opportunities in the San Luis Valley while serving a historically underserved area of the state. TGOF will assist the BLM in raising funds to develop what will be known as the Lobatos Bridge Recreation & Interpretive Education Site.
“We’re all about ensuring equitable access to our outdoor spaces,” TGOF Founder and CEO Lori McCullough said. “This project will do that while also providing an outdoor educational space for locals and visitors to learn about one of the most historically significant bridges in Colorado.”
When complete, the area around the Lobatos Bridge will be transformed into a nature-based classroom that will help convey the area’s rich natural history and cultural heritage. It will feature an interpretive trail loop, interpretive and informational signs, benches, shelters, and more. Recreational opportunities will also be enhanced by the addition of a boat ramp, fire rings, picnic tables, and other amenities.
“This will transform the area and give the local community something to really be proud of,” McCullough noted. “It will also help draw visitors and provide them the opportunity to learn about the area as well as the bridge’s historical significance.”
“This meets a lot of the goals of the Rio Grande Natural Area Act of 2006,” Sean Noonan, Outdoor Recreation Planner for the BLM San Luis Valley Field Office, noted. “It will help conserve the area’s rich history and provide social, environmental, and economic benefits to the local community and visitors alike.”
TGOF and the BLM are hoping to secure funding and have the site constructed and open to the public by October. It’s expected to cost just over $720,000.
“The BLM has already committed $33,000 to the project,” McCullough noted. “Now we’re going to get organized and raise the remaining funds through public and private sources.”
Donations can be made via The Great Outdoors Fund website at thegreatoutdoorsfund.org. It’s important to note that 100 percent of the dollars donated will go directly to the project’s budget.