River users will be surveyed as North Star planning begins

ASPEN – Recreational users of North Star Nature Preserve – a sensitive, but increasingly popular spot east of Aspen – may be asked a few questions about their experience there this summer.


Pitkin County Open Space and Trails is beginning work to update a 14-year-old management plan for North Star, as well the management plan for the James H. Smith Open Space. The city of Aspen, co-owner of the Smith property, will join the planning effort. Together, the two parcels comprise about 240 acres of important riparian habitat along the Roaring Fork River. The James H. Smith management plan was adopted in 2001, following adoption of the North Star plan in 2000.


Since then, recreational use of the area has exploded – mostly on the river itself, noted Gary Tennenbaum, Open Space and Trails assistant director. The meandering waterway can draw 100 or more individuals daily during the summer. They float a section of the river that includes the two open space properties. Inflatable tubes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are among the vessels of choice.


North Star also provides a landing zone for paragliders and a popular beach area when the high flows of early summer recede.


In late-July and early August, brief, in-person surveys will be conducted with recreationists on the properties. In addition, the survey is available online at www.pitkinostprojects.com - look for the link to the North Star Nature Preserve Management Plan.


Natural resource surveys on the properties are also being conducted this summer.


Open Space and Trails staff plans to meet with neighbors, and commercial and recreational users as part of the management plan process. Other entities with an interest in the properties, including the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Roaring Fork Conservancy, Aspen Valley Land Trust, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy, will also be invited to get involved.


The goal is to have a draft management plan ready for public review by December or January, Tennenbaum said.


Contact: Gary Tennenbaum

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails assistant director

gary.tennenbaum@pitkincounty.com or 970-920-5355



Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2014