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Colorado Gulch Tour Shows What Money Went To

By December 28, 2020Press, Uncategorized

Peggy Grove finds the plaque honoring the Wood River Women’s Foundation’s donation.

Saturday, December 26, 2020


Originally published in Eye on Sun Valley. To view the original article click here.

The Colorado Gulch Preserve that just got a little larger with the acquisition of the Bryson property is actually part of a larger 400-plus-acre chain of preserves that stretches from Colorado Gulch to the new Simons Bauer Preserve near Mountain Humane.

Each preserve has been acquired and enhanced with the help of community donations. Among them, the $25,000 that the Wood River Women’s Foundation donated to build a footbridge in the Colorado Gulch Preserve.

This fall, before the snow fell, the Wood River Land Trust offered three socially distanced hikes to WRWF members to show them what their money had gone towards.

Sally Onetto leads the procession through the woods.

Courtney Jelaco, the Land Trust’s director of development, led the women through the woods past where children spent the summer building forts and riding bikes, where dogs fetched sticks and splashed in the water and past the new Pollinator Patch where paragliders often land after jumping into the sky off Della Mountain.

“There are great fishing holes in the river here—it’s a local favorite for fishing,” she said as they neared the river. “There used to be a road and bridge that took you to the gulch on the other side, but it washed out in the flood a couple years ago.”

The Land Trust is considering building a suspension bridge to cross the river at that point or some sort of other footbridge that would be accessible by mountain bike, she added.

“We are trying to figure out what kind of bridge would make sense in order to let the river do what a river needs to do,” she said. “The old bridge restricted the river. It increased the power of the river and that’s not great for the fish habitat.”

Carrie Morrow takes a picture of her fellow WRWF members on the Colorado Gulch Preserve bridge.

Last year the Wood River Land Trust purchased the Simons Bauer Preserve adjacent to the Draper Preserve where the Bow Bridge is to protect the wetlands that moose and other wildlife are dependent on year round. The area also attracts birders from as far as the West Coast, as it’s such a beautiful sanctuary, Jelaco said.

Next year, she said, the Land Trust hopes to create some trails through the area to provide additional recreational access.

The women came to the footbridge over the canal that their donations had created. Proudly, different members pointed out the sign showed that it had been built with a donation from the Wood River Women’s Foundation.

The bridge was inspired in large part by the Bow Bridge upstream. Designer Leslie Howa, who designed that bridge, even added a hoot owl to surprise the observant.

Courtney Jelaco describes how the flood impacted the Colorado Gulch Preserve.

“So many people have used that bridge this year,” said Jelaco. “We saw three times the use we got the previous year, especially in April, May and June after the pandemic started.”

The Land Trust’s Scott Boettger has said this is a critical time in the life of the valley to preserve some of the last best places before someone develops them and they’re lost forever.

The Land Trust has a couple of properties it’s negotiating over. It’s also exploring the idea of restoring the pond and flood plain at the Hulen Meadows Pond north of Ketchum and adding a restroom and couple of small picnic shelters to enhance the accessibility of the popular recreation site.

“There’s a quite a lot of support for seeing the pond restored. We trying to see what the community wants to do,” Jelaco told the women. “One of the missions of the Wood River Land Trust is to provide accessible recreation and there are not many areas in this valley that are ADA accessible. That’s an area where we could easily provide enhanced access for persons with disabilities and families with small children.”

WRWF members pose for a masked picture.

In the meantime, Jelaco said, another nice multi-purpose place to visit is the 10,000-acre Rinker Rock Creek Ranch out Croy Canyon where the University of Idaho is conducting research to determine how best to graze cattle without adversely impacting the environment.

“In the winter it’s beautiful—a great place for snowshoeing,” she said. “And in the spring the lupine are incredible.”


The 350-member Wood River Women’s Foundation gained 23 new members during 2020, even though the pandemic curtailed social activities, which have long been tools to introduce potential members to the organization.

“We’re delighted because what we do is needed now more than ever,” said Membership Chair Kathleen Eder.

Members have different reasons for joining.

“It’s a wonderful organization if you want to really know your community,” said Jan Phillips, noting how the women learn about different nonprofits and the projects that they are working on as they decide what to fund.

“Rather than give $500 here and $500 there, I feel like I’m giving money to this organization and by pooling they can actually do something with what I give,” said Patti McLean.

“I love that fact that it’s collective giving and it teaches women about philanthropy,” added Kit Wright.