Eagle County Open Space and The Conservation Fund announced the transfer of two popular recreational sites adjacent to the Upper Colorado River to Bureau of Land Management (BLM), ensuring the continued availability of safe public access for boating, fishing and other forms of recreation. The 17-acre Two Bridges property and 10-acre State Bridge property were acquired by Eagle County in 2011 in order to improve public access to the river. Both sites are within 40 minutes from Interstate-70, north of the Wolcott exit.
Funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) enabled the permanent protection of these well-known sites located within the BLM’s Upper Colorado River Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA). The State Bridge and Two Bridges properties are heavily used for boating and recreation and will remain available to the public under BLM ownership. The Two Bridges property provides a much needed put-in and take-out site on the 10-mile stretch between State Bridge and the Catamount Bridge Recreation Site.
Both sites were improved through investment by the Eagle County Open Space Program with high quality boat launches, bathroom facilities and developed parking areas. During the county’s ownership, these sites were managed collaboratively with the BLM, together with nine existing BLM recreational sites within the SRMA.
“This sale fulfills our plan to enhance these two recreational properties for the public, while returning funds to Eagle County Open Space for future uses,” said Eagle County Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry. “We are proud of our partnerships to protect land and water while supporting excellent recreation management on the Colorado River.”
“The BLM’s partnerships with Eagle County and The Conservation Fund have been vital to increasing public access for recreational activities such as fishing and boating on the Colorado River,” said Connie Clementson, Acting BLM Colorado Northwest District Manager. “We will continue to work closely with Eagle County as we manage these areas for the long-term benefit of the public.”
The conservation of the Two Bridges and State Bridge parcels complement the previous addition of the 9-acre Dotsero Landing site to the Upper Colorado River SRMA. In 2016, in cooperation with Eagle County and The Conservation Fund, the BLM used funding from the LWCF to acquire Dotsero Landing, providing continued river access where the Eagle and Colorado Rivers join. Together, these three river access sites are helping to secure the significant scenic, recreation, cultural, and wildlife resources within the Colorado River SRMA.
“The Colorado River is a tremendous national resource—an icon of Colorado and the West,” said Christine Quinlan with The Conservation Fund. “Ensuring safe public access at these well-known sites serves a wide range of recreational users and sportsmen, including school groups, outdoor education groups, veterans’ groups and the disabled. We appreciate the continued leadership from U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and U.S. Representative Scott Tipton in support of the LWCF and the essential recreational opportunities it protects across Colorado.”
U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and U.S. Representative Scott Tipton (CO-3) supported Colorado’s request for LWCF funding and helped secure the Congressional appropriations for the program. Permanently reauthorized by U.S. Congress this winter, LWCF is a bipartisan, federal program that uses a percentage of proceeds from offshore oil and gas royalties—not taxpayer dollars—to acquire critical lands and protect our country’s best natural resources for more than 50 years.
“We commend The Conservation Fund, Eagle County, and all of the partners who made this project a reality. It has been an honor to work in support of this coalition and see firsthand their efforts to expand access to the Colorado River,” said U.S. Senator Bennet. “Today’s success exemplifies what the Land and Water Conservation Fund is all about: supporting community-driven efforts to improve access to the outdoors and help drive Colorado’s thriving recreation economy. We will continue supporting efforts in Washington to provide LWCF the full funding it deserves.”
“I applaud this important project that will increase access for outdoor recreation and recognize the role LWCF plays in preserving and protecting our great outdoors for future generations,” said U.S Senator Gardner. “The Upper Colorado River Special Recreation Management Area project highlights how important LWCF is to our local communities, and I was happy to lead the charge in securing the program’s permanent reauthorization earlier this year.”
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund continues to play a vital role for improving access to Colorado’s recreation sites across the country and I am glad to see the Colorado River positively impacted as a direct result,” said U.S. Representative Tipton. “I thank the Eagle County community, the BLM and all the involved parties for their dedication to securing better recreation opportunities for Coloradans for years to come.”
The Upper Colorado River SRMA encompasses 85 miles of river stretching from above Kremmling in Grand County to below Dotsero at I-70 in Eagle County. Visited by over 90,000 people annually, the SRMA is an increasingly popular destination for anglers, rafters, kayakers, paddle boarders and campers offering everything from advanced whitewater to family-friendly floating and angling. The SRMA connects critical wildlife movement corridors between the Flat Tops Wilderness Area and Bull Gulch Wilderness Study Area, and provides habitat for bighorn sheep, Colorado River cutthroat trout, Roundtail chub, bald eagle and peregrine falcon.
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 8 million acres of land, including more than 253,000 acres in Colorado. www.conservationfund.org.