Help preserve Grand Lake by joining us in requesting Outstanding Resource Water designation for Grand Lake. If you love to boat, fish, sail, row, paddle, hike and be on or near the water we need your help to preserve Grand Lake and keep it healthy and beautiful! Help us maintain the bountiful recreation of our lake and to partnering with the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission to bring this designation to fruition.
Three Ways You Can Help Today!
Sign Up for Our Newsletter
Sign up to receive our newsletter and learn more about watershed and how it impacts Grand Lake and the Colorado River and why it is important! Learn about upcoming events and meetings that will encourage the preservation of Grand Lake for generations to come.
Sign the Designation Request Letter
One of the most important things you can do to preserve Grand Lake for generations to come us sign the ONRW designation letter. Let your voice be heard so that you can continue to enjoy Grand Lake adventures!
Tell a Friend and Share a Photo
One of the easiest ways to help is to tell friends and family about Oustanding Grand Lake and share your stories and adventures with them on Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites. Tag your photos on social media with… #WeAreTheColorado
Read Our FAQ’s to Learn More
What is an Outstanding Waters Designation?
Waters eligible for Outstanding Waters designation include waters that are part of a national or state park, wildlife refuge or wilderness areas, special trout waters, waters with exceptional recreational or ecological significance, and high-quality waters that have not been significantly modified by human activities. This designation is granted by the state of Colorado through the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission.
Why Does Grand Lake Need Outstanding Waters Designation?
The Outstanding Waters designation will support national and Colorado values that include: enjoyment of a recreational treasure such as boating and fishing around the nation’s highest yacht club, the uniqueness of Colorado’s largest and deepest natural lake, and an aesthetic focal point for Rocky Mountain National Park which attracts over 3.5 million visitors from around the world each year. The support this effort has generated among the public has been exciting; to date, over 300 signatures have been obtained from people and organizations around the country and abroad! The designation will be an important contribution to our community and economic development efforts, combining best practices in environmental sustainability and economics. We look forward to using the designation to market the inherent beauty and the bountiful recreation of our lake and to partnering with the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission to bring this designation to fruition.
What is the Outstanding Grand Lake Foundation?
The Outstanding Grand Lake Foundation is the 501c3 arm of The Grand Lake Chamber. It is a citizen and community driven effort to promote conservation and economic development in the town of Grand Lake and to provide education to residents and visitors on the Upper Colorado River Watershed.
Its mission is to promote sustainable development through environmental education & eco-tourism, while recognizing that a healthy lake is correlative with a thriving business community.
Why Should I Sign the Letter?
“Why is Grand Lake “Outstanding?” The full value of the lake cannot be fully appreciated with words. To know why Grand Lake is “Outstanding,” you should see its glassy surface from a kayak in the morning or feel it as you draw a prized trout from its waters. You should visit the Rocky Mountain National Park Treasure, Adams Falls, and watch the roaring water make its way toward Grand Lake. Grand Lake is “Outstanding” as you climb to the top of Shadow Mountain Lookout Tower and view its 265 feet of depth. Sign to celebrate Colorado’s largest and deepest natural lake as an Outstanding Waters Designation, with the nation’s other greats like Lake Tahoe and Lake Yellowstone!”
How Did Outstanding Grand Lake Start?
In 2015, in response to a Community Assessment Survey, the Grand Lake Chamber began to investigate how to best market its beautiful lake town, nestled against Rocky Mountain National Park. Chamber Directer, Samantha Bruegger, visited other communities, including West Yellowstone, to research best practices. Having lived in Lake Tahoe and visited Lake Yellowstone, Bruegger realized that there was a common thread between both stunning bodies of water, they were both designated as “Outstanding Waters.” With Grand Lake being fed by the headwaters of the Colorado River and being Colorado’s largest and deepest natural lake, Bruegger began to research how this designation could work as an economic and marketing opportunity for the community. The Outstanding Grand Lake Foundation was formed to celebrate all that makes Grand Lake Outstanding, branding was developed for marketing and the hashtag #wearethecolorado was developed so Coloradoans and beyond could share what makes them “The Colorado River.” For Outstanding Grand Lake, the proximity to the source of the nation’s greatest water resource, coupled with the bountiful recreational and scenic opportunities the lake provides, is what drove the team to #wearethecolorado. Join Outstanding Grand Lake by supporting the request for designation, and if you’re in the area, stop by and see what makes Grand Lake, the town and the body of water, OUTSTANDING!
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Meet the OGL Foundation
JT Piribek, President
JT has been a visitor to Grand County for most of his life and became a resident in 2015. JT, his wife Tyler, and son Bear own and operate a Stand Up Paddleboard company in Grand Lake. As an avid outdoorsman his entire life, JT has always appreciated and sought to protect and preserve the natural playgrounds he enjoys. Having been afforded the luxury to travel, Grand Lake is still at the top of JT’s list of most beautiful natural areas. “I believe we should do everything in our power to preserve, protect, and promote Grand Lake, so that future generations can enjoy and revel in its pristine beauty.”
Kirsten Heckendorf, Vice President
Kirsten has worked in the medical and legal field for more than twenty-two years as a Project Manager and Director of Operations, providing medical and environmental experts/financial projections in toxic torts. Kirsten continues to provide management consulting to small businesses and startups. Currently, she works as a talent buyer and strategist for Valslist Music Group. Kirsten sits on the Board of Directors of There With Care whose mission is to provide a wide range of thoughtful and fundamental services to families and children during the critical phase of a medical crisis. Ms. Heckendorf lives part-time between Denver and Grand Lake with her husband and has three children in college.
Calise Townsend, Treasurer
Calise has over 20 years experience in customer relations working for non-profits, school districts and medical centers. Calise values client-centric service and reliability. Calise and her husband own and operate Grand Mountain Rentals, a vacation home service in Grand Lake. She is active with the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Lake Rotary Club, and other local organizations/events. She is committed to preserving the natural beauty of the region. Calise lives full-time in the Grand Lake area with her husband.
Joy Phelan, Secretary
Joy helped found Outstanding Grand Lake and is originally from Long Island. After high school she explored the US looking for her ideal locale, a dynamic place that felt like home. She lived all along the east coast, on the west coast, and places in between. Her love of the mountains brought her to Eagle County Colorado in 2008 where she met her better half Shaun. They welcomed their son Wyatt in 2009 and her passion for wildlife and open space brought them to Grand Lake in 2014. Joy obtained a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences from Oregon State University in 2015. She works with and volunteers for local agencies and businesses like the Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Grand Environmental Services.
Susan Waters, Board Member
Susan graduated from Whittier College with a degree in Child Development and Education. She has been teaching for over 25 years and is currently teacher at Denver Cooperative Preschool. Susan owns a small business where she teaches small educational play groups and privately tutors elementary school aged children. Susan has served on many educational boards. She spends half the week in Denver and the other in Grand Lake- her preferred place to be. She enjoys hiking, skiing and water sports in Grand Lake.
Samantha Bruegger, Executive Director
Samantha is a California native who fell in love with Grand Lake, relocating to the area to work for the Chamber of Commerce. She possesses a BA in Women’s Studies from University of California Riverside and a Master of Public Policy from Pepperdine University, with an emphasis on Environmental Policy & Local Government. Samantha’s past work experience includes work in local government & business relations and environmental policy. She is currently the Vice President of Grand County Pet Pals and happily lives in Grand Lake with her husband Shawn and their three dogs and cat. Her local favorite activities include horseback riding, canoeing, Nordic skiing, hiking and rafting.
Katelyn Stahl, Director of Marketing & Events
Growing up on Lake Michigan, Katelyn has always had a passion for being outdoors. After moving to Indianapolis, she attended Indiana University Bloomington studying in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Katelyn has recently obtained her BFA in Photography and Graphic Design from the Herron School of Art + Design in Indianapolis, IN. She enjoys spending her time exploring the beautiful Rocky Mountains and the scenic rivers and lakes surrounding the Grand County area.
Geoffrey Elliott, Project Scientist
Geoff earned a B.S. in Earth Science and MSc in Geology back in the Late Cretaceous, is a Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control, and has completed over250 environmental studies in the Upper Colorado River Watershed. Geoff will lead our Citizen Science effort, including a cadre of local mentors and, as a Rotarian, will be overseeing 501c3 grant compliance.
Outstanding Grand Lake is proud to be supported by:
Outstanding Grand Lake is the non-profit foundation of the Grand Lake Chamber. Its mission is to promote sustainable development through environmental education & eco-tourism, while recognizing that a healthy lake is correlative with a thriving business community