DOW strikes deal to preserve river access on Roaring Fork

Aspen Times Staff Report

Colorado anglers will keep access to prime fishing waters along the Roaring Fork River under an agreement between the Colorado Division of Wildlife and a valley landowner.

Under the terms of the $383,000 Burry Ranch access agreement, two trails leading to 1.25 miles of Gold Medal fishing waters between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale will remain open to the public in perpetuity, the DOW announced Tuesday.

Wildlife officials said the easement was crucial to preserving 21 acres of quickly vanishing public access points along the Roaring Fork.

“Fishing is big recreation and economic activity up here, and being able to provide in perpetuity public fishing access for this type of water is tremendous,” said Pat Tucker, the division’s area wildlife manager in Glenwood Springs. “Generations of anglers will benefit from Mr. Burry’s generosity.”

The Burry easement was funded by $146,000 in Fishing Is Fun funds, financed with federal dollars, and $237,000 in Great Outdoors Colorado money, funded with lottery proceeds. Enhancements in the agreement include a parking area, footpaths and signs.

The river access can be reached off Highway 82, downvalley from Aspen Glen. It is open to anglers only and not intended for hiking and walking, Tucker stressed. Dogs are not permitted, he said.

The DOW had a year-to-year access agreement with the Burry family that was set to expire in 2006, according to Jim Guthrie, the DOW’s Fishing Is Fun coordinator. Last summer, the family approached wildlife officials about a permanent access easement.

“Much to the family’s credit, they were willing to offer us the permanent easement. It was clear this was an opportunity you don’t let go by,” he said.

Private property along the Roaring Fork has drawn top-dollar offers from developers for years, and there is limited public property available for walk-in fishing on the Roaring Fork between Aspen and Glenwood Springs, DOW officials note.

“Every time you turn around, some property has changed hands. We’re just losing access hand over fist,” said Alan Czenkusch, DOW area aquatic biologist. “This is the best public access on the entire Roaring Fork. It’s head and shoulders above any other.”

He said anglers who visit the easement site will have access to what the Colorado Wildlife Commission has designated “Gold Medal waters,” or fishing areas that offer anglers access to an abundant supply of large cold-water fish.

“Simply put, in Colorado, these are the waters where you have the best chance of catching big trout,” Czenkusch said.


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