For monument road federal funds needed

Chaffee County is applying for a grant to fund improvements to CR 300, the road at Ruby Mountain leading into Browns Canyon National Monument.

The road was not adequate to carry traffic when Ruby Mountain was an Arkansas Headwater Recreation Area trail access point and campground.

As access to a national monument, the road is wholly inadequate.

Improvements to the road are critical considering that CR 300 is at this point the featured access into the monument.

The monument is also accessible from the southeast via CR 175 through Turret and then CR 184; from the west off U.S. 285/24 and CR 187 and Forest Service Road 185, Aspen Ridge Road; and from the southwest off CR 300 and FSR 185D.

But all three are well off primary roads, requiring travel on dirt and gravel roads, and do not offer improvements.

CR 194 off U.S. 285 provides access to Hecla Junction from the southwest to a popular and heavily used AHRA campground and boat launch site. However, the Arkansas River serves as a natural barrier to the main portion of the monument and wilderness study area.

The most logical access to the monument, therefore, is CR 300 to what’s been the AHRA Ruby Mountain campground, boat launch and trailhead.

CR 300, however, is a narrow gravel road, at one point barely 10 feet wide, barely wide enough to provide passage for a single vehicle. Vehicles coming from the opposite direction must wait for the road to clear this narrow point in order to proceed.

It is at this section of CR 300 that county commissioners seek funding for improvements from the Federal Lands Access Program, to make the road safely passable for two-way traffic.

FLAP funds were the primary funding source for improvements to Cottonwood Pass on both Chaffee and Gunnison County sides.

The county’s grant application for CR 300 is timely. It comes just after completion of scoping sessions for use and potentially improvements to the monument.

Because the monument is a federally owned recreation project, improvements should be funded primarily by the federal government and should not fall to county taxpayers.

FIBArk week’s here

FIBArk and, apparently, summer – sort of – are arriving the same week.

Upper Arkansas Valley temperatures have barely reached 80 degrees through the first week of June. And Salida’s NWS forecast for the week ahead calls for more of the same: temperatures to reach only into the upper 70s.

Regardless, FIBArk week is here, the 71st rendition of what’s billed as the nation’s oldest, boldest and largest whitewater festival.

Back are four days’ worth of festival, including a parade, running events, nonstop music and competition on the river.

But the weekend will see changes. Saturday’s popular Hooligan Race and three other events have been canceled because of high water flows.

In addition, FIBArk’s board has changed the traditional championship race. Instead of the 26-mile run from Salida to Cotopaxi, Sunday’s featured race starts north of Salida to end at the SteamPlant. The Salida finish should build interest and make for a more competitive event.

Nonetheless, it is FIBArk, Salida’s premier summer weekend. Take part in all the activities and enjoy the fun safely.

— MJB