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Vallecito Service League dedicates new pavilion, trail
8/22/2008 By: Carole McWilliams
Vallecito residents and visitors celebrated the opening of a new wheelchair-accessible picnic pavilion, bathroom, and loop trail last Friday morning.
The new facilities are on a spur of land at the northwest corner of the lake, with scenic views of the lake and the high mountains.
The Vallecito Service League raised the money and organized the effort to build the pavilion, bathroom, and trail.
VSL member Marilyn McCord said she and four other locals were standing on the spur of land in September 2005, talking about what could be done there.
Since then, VSL has received $94,200 in grants and donations plus in-kind contributions. They worked with Pine River Irrigation District, the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and Southwest Resource Conservation Service.
A year ago the site was a jumble of dead fallen trees. All those had to be removed before construction could start.
McCord said they had a federal Categorical Exclusion to improve the site that was about to expire last summer. A hot shot wildfire crew was going to clear the downed trees, but they got called off to a fire.
Vallecito excavation contractor Justin McCarty got it done, McCord said. He also helped re-route the access road. Upper Pine Fire helped cut up trees and burn slash. Kevin Hill of Ignacio set up the steel framed pavilion. Marvin Harris did the concrete.
McCord read a long list of individuals and organizations that made it all happen.
The opening celebration recognized that all this land used to be part of the summer range for the Ute Indians. McCord noted the first cash donation of $10,000 came from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and they gave another $7,000 earlier this year.
Southern Ute tribal members Eddie Jr. and Betty Box and their group of young tribal dancers opened the event.
Tribal historian Jim Jefferson described the Ute history in the area, including their assistance to some of the valley's first white settlers. Among those were Vallecito resident Dave Warlick’s great-grandmother Serelda Pargin and her five children.
The park has a Ute name - Kaa-vi Nuu-ci Tuvu-pu, meaning Mountain Utes Lands.
Tribal member Rod Grove said he and his sister, Linda Grove DeWolf, came to the site earlier this year. They made offerings and prayed for the name to come to them, he said.
Doug Ramsey from Southwest Resource Conservation Service said some of the big ponderosas on the site were found to be scarred in the past by Indians who pulled off strips of bark to get at a layer that can be used for food. The trees also were used for medicinal and spiritual purposes, he said.
After the dances and speeches, spectators snacked and walked the loop trail.
McCord said future work includes an entryway and more landscaping. Eventually another trail will connect the picnic area with the Vallecito Community Center to the south.
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