Eagle County: Fryingpan fence to be moved | AspenTimes.com

Eagle County: Fryingpan fence to be moved

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

BASALT – “No trespassing” signs came down last week on a short stretch of the Fryingpan River east of Basalt, and elsewhere along the river, and Eagle County is seeking relocation of a private fence that was partially constructed in the county’s right of way.

With the removal of the signs, anglers gained access to a stretch of the popular gold-medal trout stream on the downriver end of the Seven Castles Bend property. It appears another stretch may open up at least partly into the river.

About a half-mile of split-rail fence bordering Frying Pan Road was erected several years ago, according to neighbors of Seven Castles Bend, a property owned by Meredith Long. When upstream landowner Warrick Mobray had a survey done last February, he said it showed sections of the river that had been blocked off either by the fence or “no trespassing signs” were actually public.

“That’s hundreds of feet of public property that people just don’t go on,” said Mobray, who owns Frying Pan Anglers. The Basalt fly shop has its own stretch of posted, private water – Mobray’s riverfront property.

Eagle County acted after it received a complaint about the fence, based on the survey, confirmed Andy Jessen, code enforcement officer.

“We basically asked the property owner to take down any fence located in our right of way,” said Jessen, who referred the matter to the county attorney. A short stretch of the fence had been dismantled by late last week.

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Representatives of the county attorney’s office and the county engineering department visited the site on Thursday, said Kyle Weber, assistant county attorney.

In some places, Weber said, the fence is within the county right of way.

“Basically, both the county and the homeowner are working on it. We’re close to resolving this,” he said Friday.

“We’re cooperating with the county,” Long said Monday. “My position is, whatever they want to do, we’ll cooperate.”

Survey stakes have been placed along a short stretch of the fence line, including the dismantled section. Each stake is marked with the location of the private property line within the river channel. Either the fence will be moved into the river where necessary, or signs will be placed midstream to designate the property boundary, Long said.

“I really haven’t made a decision as to what we’re going to do,” he said.

No new public access is being created where there was none previously, but there will be new access in the sense that the public probably didn’t realize parts of that stretch were accessible, said Perry Will, area wildlife manager with the Glenwood Springs office of the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Will has also visited the site.

“It appears there had been some misposting of public water,” he said.

The DOW, however, is not assuming public water was intentionally closed off, Will said. In areas where the private property line extends to some point into the water, the fence was not constructed in the river, but on the far bank – on the narrow strip between the road and the river, he said.

“The logical place to put the fence is between the river and the road,” he said.

The fence, however, implied the river was off-limits, Will conceded.

“That’s the impression you definitely would give to 99.9 percent of the public,” he said.

The division’s goal is clear designation of what is public and what isn’t, he said.

The Seven Castles Bend property begins shortly before mile marker 5 on Frying Pan Road. It is downstream of the lower end of the fence line that some “no trespassing” signs have already been removed, according to Mobray. One “no trespassing” sign remained in the water – the apparent downstream boundary of Long’s property.

The area where part of the fence has already been dismantled is near the driveway into Seven Castles Bend, in the middle part of the fence line.

janet@aspentimes.com