[Source: Philip Wright, Verde Independent, 2/2/2012] – The Verde River @ Clarkdale project gained traction in July as a means to help the local economy by improving public access and expanding recreational opportunities along the 2.2 miles of the river through Clarkdale. The project is expected to become an integral part of the Sustainable Clarkdale vision.
To that end, the town is inviting the public to bring ideas to a Verde River @ Clarkdale brainstorming meeting Feb. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The goal of that meeting is to begin creating a framework for a comprehensive master plan for preservation, protection and restoration of the river and its habitat in Clarkdale.
According to a press release from the Community Development Department, meeting participants will work in groups to address various topics regarding the project.
Those topics include:
– Increasing recreation such as kayaking, hiking and birding.
– Expanding public river access within Clarkdale to include outfitter support, comfort stations and parking areas.
– Creating educational opportunities, which would include access and interpretive signage.
– Exploring alternatives to current ditch diversions to enhance the river’s flow.
The Verde River @ Clarkdale project got started last summer when Mayor Doug Von Gausig and Town Manager Gayle Mabery spent time making an inventory of underperforming assets in Clarkdale.
During a July council meeting Jodie Filardo, director of community and economic development, told the council that what Von Gausig and Mabery discovered was that key resources – the Verde River and related areas – are underutilized, inaccessible, and as a result, economically undervalued by the town and its residents. Filardo further reported that she and Von Gausig had already made contact with representatives of the American Rivers Blue Trails program. She explained that the American Rivers program would open up many possibilities, and possible funding sources, for a project such as the Verde River @ Clarkdale. At that meeting, the Town Council directed staff to pursue ideas for the Verde River @ Clarkdale project.
In late September, the council approved having staff go after two grants from the Heritage Fund of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Filardo reported to the council that the state had $112,500 available for Urban Wildlife and $50,000 for Public Access grants. She told the council that the Verde River @ Clarkdale project aligns well with both of those granting focus areas.