Forest workers return to Glenwood headquarters
The White River National Forest supervisor and employees returned Monday to their newly renovated building at 900 Grand Ave. in downtown Glenwood Springs.
It marked the culmination of a two-year renovation that began in 2013. The work included replacing the antiquated heating and cooling systems and removing asbestos. The 32 employees who work in the building were spread out to office space across the forest, working remotely from the ranger stations in Rifle, Carbondale, Minturn and the Bureau of Land Management’s Colorado River Valley Field Office in Silt. Forest leadership saw this as an opportunity to complete several other improvements on the building simultaneously.
Built in 1917, the 17,000-square-foot former post office saw several additions before it passed into the hands of the Forest Service in the 1960s.
By 2009, it was clear that some upgrades were needed. The Forest Service applied for federal money earmarked for facilities, and in July 2013, the renovation began.
White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams, during a Ute blessing and sneak preview last month, emphasized that the project’s $1.9 million price tag didn’t compete with other projects.
“We either spend it on facilities or we give it back,” he said.
“It’s not gold-plated, but we wanted to do it right while we had the money,” he added. “I think it’s a good investment of our dollars.”
In addition to the removal of 10,000 square feet of asbestos ceiling tiles, improvements include new, more airtight window casings, and a 7.5-kilowatt solar array. Improvements also included office space reduction from two buildings to one, LED lighting, Energy Star appliances and even installing energy management systems into each of the desks to maximize energy efficiency. To minimize the water footprint, water-saving fixtures were installed along with a hot water recirculation system to reduce water demand. The improvements also focused on utilizing recycled content building products such as carpets, ceiling tiles and furniture that is made out of recycled content — including blue stain beetle-killed pine wall in the Grand Conference Room.
“Sustainability is written into our mission statement, so we really had a strong commitment for this to be a sustainable project,” said project manager Heather Boaz.
Now the engineering team will move forward with design and installation of a refreshed exterior landscape for the front and sides of the building.
A community open house will be scheduled soon.
Normal business hours are 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visitors can enter on the Grand Avenue south entrance. Visitor amenities include Forest Service products including maps, passes, Christmas tree permits (during the season), Motor Vehicle Use Maps as well as local and district trail hiking and camping information. Products from the Rocky Mountain Conservancy including trail maps, Jr. Ranger educational items and gifts are also available.
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Update at 9:45 p.m.: I-70 is open westbound at MM 114, West Glenwood. Eastbound remains closed at MM 105, New Castle, for an estimated 5-7 hours.