Living in places of great natural beauty such as Grand County is a privilege and a luxury. Droves of tourists, from Colorado and beyond, come up every summer to "get away from it all" and bask in the surrounding natural beauty.
The importance of keeping these areas as clean and pristine as possible is not lost on Jerry Hassoldt, manager of the Headwaters Marina in Grand Lake. Headwaters Marina has the distinction of being certified by the Clean Marina Program, an initiative developed two years ago by the Colorado Marinas Association.
Currently, only six marinas statewide are so certified.
The goal of this program is to promote environmentally sound practices among marina operators and boaters alike, such as reducing pollution and incorporating cleaner maintenance procedures. The result - clear, clean water, minimal impact on the marine environment, and years more to enjoy the beauty of Colorado lakes and waterways.
In order to receive the Colorado Marina Program certification, marinas must meet the program's strict standards, as well as ongoing and future requirements.
"When I did this certification, they were already doing everything that the program requires," said Paul Clukies, executive director of Colorado Marina Association, and program director of the Clean Marinas Program. "They were already running what I would consider a perfectly clean marina."
Preserving the environment ranks high in importance to Hassoldt, a native Coloradan who has been boating on Grand Lake for 55 years.
"It's very important to us," he said, "especially being on a natural lake like this."
The Headwaters Marina deals with 12,000 boaters every season, which itself is only a percentage of the total number of boats found on Grand Lake each summer. With figures like these, pollution damage could occur if proper procedures are not followed.
Hassoldt pulls out a 4-inch thick binder containing all the regulations and procedures required by the program.
"We were on [the procedures] anyway," he said, although the marina did add some extras, including emergency clean-up kits.
The initiative extends to the boaters as well, offering information about clean boating practices and encouraging environmentally responsible maintenance of boats and waste products.
The Clean Marina Program is voluntary, meaning marinas are not required by law to follow its set of practices. All certified marinas can be identified by the CMP flag flown on the premises. Although a slight cost may be incurred to meet regulations, it seems that the benefits outweigh it. "There's a small expense," said Hassoldt, "but it's well-worth it."
Hassoldt's passion for water quality extends beyond his work at the marina. While he spends his summers out on the lake, during the winter he works with the Grand Lake Water Department, taking care of the water system. It's all about water, he said, "the quality of the water we drink, and the water we recreationally play in."
Support for the clean marina program has poured in from the town as well. "We're vitally concerned with the clarity of Grand Lake," said Grand Lake Mayor Judy Burke. "We encourage all other marinas to come together to do all we can to keep the water clean."
"It's an honor to be among the select few to have this certification," added David Hook, Grand Lake town manager. "We're proud of the effort that got us up to this point."
So the summer continues, the sun rising early each morning to illuminate the waters of the lake and call forth the boaters from the shore. Though nothing may look immediately different to the casual eye, the wheels are turning behind the scenes to keep that water clean.
Hassoldt gives a nod to the lake. "Things are improving."