UPDATE: Federal court OK's Over the River

A newly created preserve in Lake County will bring new recreation and conservation opportunities to 2 miles of riverfront and 271 acres of land on the Arkansas River, near Twin Lakes, south of Leadville.

The new Arkansas River Community Preserve (ARC Preserve) — opening to visitors sometime in 2024 — will bring hiking and Gold Medal trout fishing to the river.

The preserve is at the intersection of US Hwy. 24 and Colorado Hwy. 82, at the turn off for Twin Lakes and Independence Pass. The ARC Preserve will protect the land from development, preserve wildlife habitat, and allow for recreational use, including the  "Stage and Rail Trail," a proposed 79-mile trail connecting Salida and Leadville via old railroad corridors and stagecoach roads.

This stretch of the river was contaminated in the 1980s by mining waste from an old tunnel, killing everything in the river. Since then, the water has been cleaned up and returned to its previous unpolluted condition. In fact, trout and other fish are able to thrive in the river, which has been designated with the "Gold Medal Waters" distinction, meaning anglers can catch trout up to 14 inches long.

Lake County will be the land manger for this preserve, which was purchased with funding from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), the Central Colorado Conservancy, and other entities and private donations. You can learn more about the new preserve in the press release, below.

While you will have to wait another year or so for the ARC Preserve to open, there are many other recreational opportunities in the area, including three lakes at the top of Independence Pass (closed now for the season, and reopening around Memorial Day,) that you can read about in my column here. And check out the accompanying slide show here.

Be Good. Do Good Things. Leave No Trace.

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