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Lion’s Park interpretive center is complete

Middle Colorado Watershed Council, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the city of Rifle join together to open river education center

The new interprative center at Lion’s Park is complete, and will be open to the public as soon as restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic are removed.
Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram

What was once an unused portion of a visitors center will now help educate visitors on the importance of the Colorado River.

Last week the Middle Colorado Watershed Council hosted a small event marking the completion of the River Stop Colorado River Discovery Center located in Lion’s Park at the Rifle rest area. 

With the help from the city of Rifle and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the council built the interpretive center in an unused area of the building nestled between Lions Ponds and the Colorado River.

“We’re hoping that this space is a place where people can come and learn more about this particular area. It is a very unique spot we have here between Colorado’s plateaus and mountains, and incredible resource with the river and riparian corridor around Rifle,” said Doug Winter, Middle Colorado Watershed Council member.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event was subdued with only a small group of people invited to get the first look at the center.

“Obviously COVID has impacted things quite a bit. The design team have been working diligently during the pandemic and following all the necessary precautions for developing the space,” Winter said. “As far as opening to the general public, we’re basically still waiting until things calm down.”

Even though the center has yet to officially open its doors CPW has been hosting small educational events at the park since last fall as they work in partnership with the council.

“Essentially we are here using this space to do environmental education programming in a way to reach kids and adults,” Senior Ranger with Colorado Parks and Wildlife Matt Schuler said. “Through this partnership we were able to find a space to work out of, and these grounds are fantastic. We have the river ecosystem, the ponds, we have the big play spaces. We’re able to do countless and endless possibilities for our outdoor programming.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is currently staffing the space with Jeff Kerber, a seasonal employee with CPW who is their program coordinator.

“The mission is to increase enthusiasm, understanding, and opportunities for youth and adults in nature.  With this easily accessible and free location in town, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Rifle Gap State Park Complex will increase its outreach and connection to the surrounding communities,” Kerber said. “Rifle Gap Outdoors will achieve these goals by offering a wide range of outdoor programming to cater to as many diverse community members as possible to foster a new generation of environmental stewards.”

The program events hosted at Lion’s Pond are free with no state parks pass required. Schedule updates can be found at facebook.com/Rifle-Gap-Outdoors-102256121562349.

kmills@citizentelegram.com


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