Six different Pitkin County Open Space properties on, around and including the Rio Grande Railroad corridor between Slaughterhouse Bridge and W/J Ranch are the focus of a comprehensive management planning effort that gets underway this spring. The summer-long mapping, inventory, public outreach and feedback effort 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, 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 Pitkin County Stewardship and Trails Manager, Gary Tennenbaum.
A series of “charrette-style” meetings will be held in early June with Roaring Fork Gorge user groups including: hikers, bikers, climbers, boaters, fishermen, 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 into the future, and if their use would change if the properties were managed differently. The public will also be invited to participate in multiple site visits in the Roaring Fork 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 the summer-long 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 2013. Dates and times of upcoming public meetings in June will be announced in mid-May.