ASPEN – Rangers with Pitkin County Open Space and Trails have been busy patrolling North Star Nature Preserve, while county sheriff’s deputies have stepped up enforcement efforts along the Highway 82 corridor next to the popular boating area.
The July 4 weekend brought many to North Star to enjoy a float down the Roaring Fork River through the calm water, but not everyone was respectful of the experience, based on ranger reports, noted Gary Tennenbaum, assistant director of Open Space and Trails.
“The amount of trash rangers pulled from the put-in at Wildwood and takeout at Stillwater Bridge is discouraging, he said. “The garbage included inner tubes, beer cans, a kid’s swimming pool, a mini trampoline and an inflatable beverage holder.”
“It’s a nature preserve, but everyone isn’t treating it as such,” he said.
Open Space rangers have counted as many as 40 to 50 vehicles parked at the Forest Service put-in at Wildwood Lane and around the takeout at the pedestrian bridge. Deputies have issued tickets for obstructing the highway and Wildwood School has ordered the towing of vehicles blocking the road that serves the preschool. Meanwhile, rangers have issued warnings for parking on the highway, fishing in a closed area, dog violations, camping in the North Star parking area and obstructing the East of Aspen Trail. Dogs are not allowed on the ground at North Star; they must remain on the watercraft if they float through. They must be leashed on the East of Aspen Trail.
Rangers will be contacting local shops that rent inflatable tubes to encourage them to impart instruction about proper etiquette for the North Star float, Tennenbaum said.
An updated management plan for North Star Nature Preserve will go to county commissioners for adoption shortly. It is scheduled for votes on July 22 and Aug. 12. Among its provisions is the establishment of a “quiet zone” throughout the river’s course at North Star and a presence by naturalists and others to inform users about the need to treat the nature preserve with respect.
In conjunction with the management plan, Open Space and Trails is attempting to get accurate counts of river use. Motion-triggered cameras have been installed to monitor use.
“Ninety percent of the users are responsible, but the bottom line is, all river users need to behave in a manner that respects the nature preserve,” Tennenbaum said. “If you want to float the river, control the party atmosphere by keeping your voice down, pack out whatever you bring in and stay in your boat or tube.”
Contact: Gary Tennenbaum