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Agency puts Colorado lake’s purchase high on funding list

DENVER — The U.S. Forest Service announced that the purchase of land around Colorado’s Sweetwater Lake is among its top 10 acquisition priorities for 2021.

The agency’s list released last week ranked the purchase in Garfield County ninth among 36 land acquisition projects, The Colorado Sun reports.

The forest service requested $8.5 million from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The fund is supported by royalty payments from offshore drilling companies. In December, Congress allocated $495 million from the fund for 2020, the largest distribution in 17 years.

The Sweetwater Lake property is the largest request on the forest service’s $87.1 million list of priority projects.

“What often makes these things successful, in addition to being appropriate parcels, is having broad-based support and that is something we feel really good about,” White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said. “We have a wide range of governments, agencies and groups supporting this.”

Fitzwilliams hopes to partner with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to improve and maintain a campground and boat launch at the property if federal funding is approved.

“We are looking at a new type of shared stewardship with them and how we go about this,” he said.