A draft management plan for Pitkin County’s Deer Creek Open Space will open for a month of public comment starting Monday, Feb. 7.
Pitkin County Open Space and Trails acquired the 38-acre parcel, located at 2553 Lower River Road, in 2015. An interim plan for the open space, adopted in 2016, allowed non-commercial public access to the Roaring Fork River on the property from the Rio Grande Trail, but the remainder of the property has remained closed to public use since its purchase. A lease agreement with Colorado Parks and Wildlife allows a CPW wildlife officer to reside in a house on the open space.
The draft management plan keeps the river access open to non-commercial use and provides for continued use and maintenance of the property by CPW, but maintains the public closure on the bulk of the parcel in order to help protect wildlife habitat on a broader level.
Discussions with resource managers, including the Forest Service and CPW, and data provided by an Open Space and Trails wildlife camera, have confirmed the importance of Deer Creek Open Space as a protective buffer to adjacent national forest lands, noted Carly Klein, senior planner with Open Space and Trails.
Deer Creek Open Space abuts Arbaney Gulch on the property’s northeast boundary. The quantity and diversity of wildlife species documented in the gulch through continued monitoring factored into the recommendations contained in the management plan, Klein said.
“Open Space and Trails adopted a biodiversity policy in 2016 that makes habitat health on the greater landscape a priority over human use,” Klein said. “The proposed management actions for Deer Creek Open Space put the protection of biodiversity first.”
Proposed management of Deer Creek Open Space seeks to maintain the area’s ecological integrity and wildlife connectivity, and evaluate ways that additional housing may be accommodated to support the needs of employee housing for land stewards. It also supports ecological and agricultural improvements on the parcel.
The draft management plan for Deer Creek Open Space and a link to provide public input will be available at www.pitkinOSTprojects.com starting on Monday, Feb. 7. More information on wildlife use of Arbaney Gulch is available at www.pitkinoutside.org/ecofinder/learn/
Contact: Carly Klein, Open Space and Trails senior planner | email@example.com | 970-920-5224