August 15, 2008

Park to open after road improvements at Shaffers Crossing complete
By Mike Potter, Staff Writer

Staunton State Park, which straddles the Park County/Jefferson County line north of Pine Junction, could draw as many as 50,000 people per year to the surrounding area when it opens, said Scott Roush, park manager for Colorado State Parks.

A little less than half of the state park is in Park County.

The park is still in the master planning stages and wouldn't open until road work is completed at the Shaffers Crossing intersection, just east of Pine Junction. Work at that intersection is scheduled to begin next summer.

Roush made the announcement at the Aug. 8 Conifer Area Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Tourists will be lured to the new park by a number of geographic features in the park, as well as the proximity to metro Denver, he said.

Max Anderson, chairman of the Conifer Chamber, called the park "unbelievable" and said he believed that the large volume of tourists would offer a "direct benefit to area businesses."

The main access to the park will be from South Elk Creek Road off of U.S. 285 at Shaffers Crossing.

Roush said a number of things are being considered during the master planning phase, including what type of camping, if any, to allow. While the master planning committee is looking to add features, Roush said, consideration is being taken to reduce the impact to the surrounding subdivisions.

The Conifer Mountain and Kings Valley subdivisions border the park to the east. Calfee Gulch, Woodside and Elk Falls Ranch subdivisions are to the south. To the west is the Lions Brook subdivision.

Since Colorado State Parks took over the property, a number of improvements have been made, including trail designing and "fuel reduction" - the thinning of trees.

"We have done a ton of fuel work in there," Roush said.

The topic of allowing overnight camping is also receiving a lot of attention.

Master planners are discussing whether or not to allow camping, and if so, to decide if they want to permit tent camping, camping in recreational vehicles or camping in cabins.

There is also much thought being devoted to the creation of trails, Roush said.

He said there will be around 25 miles of trails in the state park, and in some areas they have to be built along rivers and specially designed to avoid destruction of the surrounding area.

Even special consideration is being given to what type of electrical energy would supply the park.

Roush said solar, wind and hydroelectric power are being considered.

The park will have many geographic features that would draw tourists, such as Lion's Head and Elk Falls, he said.

The migration routes of a cross section of wildlife through the park will also be an important attraction.

Roush said bears, mountain lions and other wild animals call the park home.

History of the park

The 3,600-acre park was created when Frances Hornbrook Staunton donated 1,690 acres, including her parents' original homestead, to Colorado State Parks in 1986. Colorado States Parks then used a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to help cover the cost to purchase the adjacent Elk Falls Ranch, a 1,042-acre parcel, and Davis Ranch, an 860-acre parcel.

Roush said the parcel donated by Staunton came with a condition that it had to be utilized as a park by Colorado State Parks, or control of the property would be transferred to the city of Denver.

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