Six different Pitkin County open space properties on, around and including the Rio Grande Trail corridor between Slaughterhouse Bridge and W/J Ranch are the focus of a comprehensive management-planning effort that will get under way this spring.
The summerlong effort of mapping, inventory, public outreach and feedback will result in what will be called the Roaring Fork Gorge Management Plan. The properties to be included in the plan are: Red Butte Ranch Open Space, Airport Ranch, the Denver/Rio Grande Railroad corridor, Mills property, Stein Park and Stein Riverside Park. Gold Butte and Wilton Jaffee Sr. parks already have their own management plans but will be included in the overall Roaring Fork Gorge plan.
“After spending nearly a year studying improvement alternatives for the last four miles of the Rio Grande Trail into Aspen, it became clear that before we could make the best decision for the trail, we needed a lot more information about the properties that surround it, other trails that connect to it, study environmental and wildlife issues and hear from all of the user groups of what we’re now calling the Roaring Fork Gorge,” said Gary Tennenbaum, Pitkin County stewardship and trails manager, in a prepared statement.
A series of charrette-style meetings will be held in early June with Roaring Fork Gorge user groups, including hikers, bikers, climbers, boaters, anglers, equestrians, etc. Users will be asked how they use the properties, how they access them, where they park, how they’d like to use the properties in the future and if their use would change if the properties were managed differently. The public also will be invited to participate in multiple site visits in the gorge during the process.
“We want to know how users would react to possible changes in the Roaring Fork Gorge, including the potential for surface changes on the Rio Grande Trail, a new connection across the gorge or if a sustainable fisherman access is developed,” Tennenbaum said.
After this summer’s public outreach and feedback effort is completed, a draft report will be publicized for further comment with hopes that a final Roaring Fork Gorge Management Plan can be adopted in December. Dates and times of upcoming public meetings in June will be announced in mid-May, according to Pitkin County Open Space and Trails.