Resident: Fourth at North Star was ‘worst I’ve ever seen it’ |

Resident: Fourth at North Star was ‘worst I’ve ever seen it’

A group of young people float down the Roaring Fork River at the North Star Nature Preserve last summer.
Aspen Times file photo |

Fourth of July revelers trashed the North Star Nature Preserve over the holiday weekend, prompting law enforcement to step-up patrols for the increasingly popular boating area, according to the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails department.

“The amount of trash rangers pulled from the put-in at Wildwood and takeout at Stillwater Bridge is discouraging,” Gary Tennenbaum, open space and trails assistant director, said in a statement Tuesday. “The garbage included inner tubes, beer cans, a kid’s swimming pool, a mini trampoline and an inflatable beverage holder.”

The North Star Nature Preserve is a 175-acre area located about 1.5 miles east of Aspen along the Roaring Fork River.

Open Space rangers issued tickets for cars parked on Highway 82, fishing in a closed area, dog violations, camping in the North Star parking area and obstructing the East of Aspen Trail, according to the statement. Rangers counted between 40 and 50 cars parked at the put-in and the take-out.

“This Fourth of July was the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Julie Wille, who lives near the takeout. “That was exceptional.”

Wille said she and her family avoided their own home and went into Aspen to celebrate the holiday because they knew it would be crowded. As they were biking home past the takeout, they saw members of law enforcement trying to control the area with cars parked everywhere and numerous people walking across the highway, she said.

“It is a huge problem,” Wille said. “We knew it was going to be crazy, so we avoided being there.”

In an interview Tuesday, Wille said she had just gone to get her mail and found two deflated inner tubes discarded near her mailbox.

“Pretty regularly trash is left there,” she said.

In addition to the stepped up patrols, rangers will be contacting local shops that rent inner tubes and encouraging them to counsel people to follow the rules and use proper etiquette when floating through North Star, according to the statement.

“If you want to float the river, control the party atmosphere by keeping your voice down, pack out whatever you bring in and stay in your boat or tube,” Tennenbaum said in the statement.

Wille, who uses the river and supports other people’s right to do the same, nonetheless said noise is “a huge problem.”

“People get on the river and they scream,” she said. “It’s super loud. Some people bring boomboxes.”

Pitkin County Commissioners are set to vote on an updated North Star Nature Preserve management plan July 22 and Aug. 12. Provisions of the plan include the establishment of a quiet zone, according to the open space statement. Rangers also have installed motion-triggered cameras to try and figure out how many people are using the river through the preserve.

Open Space rangers have asked Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies to concentrate on the area in an effort to get drivers to slow down and encourage people to park safely, said Alex Burchetta, director of operations for the Sheriff’s Office.

“That’s an area we hit pretty consistently all summer,” Burchetta said. “There’s a lot of pedestrians.”

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