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Reopen part of the trail

Dear Editor:

I believe the bike trail access from Catherine’s Store Bridge to the downvalley end of Rock Bottom Ranch should not only open on May 1, but should be open all year long. This parcel is a large and very important public fishing access that, like many places in the past several years, has had access restricted and/or closed.

The lower end of Rock Bottom Ranch (and ACES, which is where fishing access conveniently ends) already has a large fence in place, which would be a perfect point at which to close winter and spring access for calving elk and nesting herons. The steep, hilly land downvalley of this point is not important winter range for deer or elk ” there is very little forage until you get into the meadows upvalley of that gate. Herons don’t nest here, and deer and elk use the path below that point infrequently ” mainly in transit to and from areas like those meadows above where they have to spend lots of time to survive.

As a fisherman and outdoorsman, there is no valid reason in my mind for this lower portion of the trail to ever close ” especially considering the money it took to build it and the number of fishermen in this area who contribute significantly to the tax base and who need public access to be preserved. Didn’t a lot of our money go into building this trail, when we used to be able to access this water on the railroad tracks any day of the year? The Blue Creek access on the other side of the river is much smaller, with less quality fishing water.

When I moved here 18 years ago, no one cared if you fished many areas like this, areas that have since been subdivided or developed or just plain closed to the public (and not always legally). And now suddenly there is a perception amongst a few people that a closed trail is somehow negatively impacting deer, elk and herons that did just fine all those years when no one ” man or animal ” cared who came or went. What is becoming more endangered than herons are places for responsible fishermen to go and enjoy what’s left of the wild.

If you fish and are concerned about your access to this area, please e-mail your comments to the RFTA board at trails@rfta.com by Thursday.

David E. Johnson, owner, Crystal Fly Shop

Carbondale


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