Published in the Aspen Times Letters to the Editor, Oct. 24, 2019
Colorado Wild Public Lands (CWPL) is writing this letter in response to the Rock Creek Association's recent gate closure of Dorais Way, blocking public access from the Redstone Campground to the Crystal River, Filoha Meadows and adjacent Forest Service lands. This action is happening notwithstanding over a century of public use of this route; the county road along this route was built in the late 1880s, and the public has used it for many decades.
A public trail along the historic route was furthermore dedicated by the Wild Rose Subdivision plat in 1982; the Rock Creek Associates (RCA) inhabit this subdivision. While the members of the RCA all benefited from the subdivision, they now seek to undermine this dedicated public access on the pretext of a 2015 quit claim deed to the old Railroad ROW not within their subdivision, but within our adjacent public lands. However, the public use of this route was established as a Pitkin County road before the rail was there, used during the during railroad's operation, and has continued since the rail was pulled during WWII; as such, under federal statute, it remains a county (public) right of way.
The RCA is claiming to save the public from the dangers of the Crystal River by closing this long-established public Right of Way. Closing public access based on purported liability issues is a classic and baseless NIMBY argument. Under Colorado law, a landowner cannot be held liable for inherent natural dangers associated with established recreational access over their land.
Filoha Meadows is already quite restricted, as it is open to the public only from July 1 to September 30; it is not being ruined by anyone but the neighbors who are taking down signs, posting illegal closures, and harassing the public. We want to express our strong support of any and all efforts by Pitkin County to ensure the unlocking of the gate across Dorais Way. CWPL objects to this attempt to block historic public access to this beautiful canyon, and strongly applauds the action of the County Commissioners to keep this route open for all.
Board of Directors
Colorado Wild Public Lands, Basalt