Eagle County announces limited access to Hardscrabble Ranch open space this spring, summer | VailDaily.com

Eagle County announces limited access to Hardscrabble Ranch open space this spring, summer

This map shows the Hardscrabble Ranch property boundary. The 1,540-acre site, formerly known as the Adam's Rib Ranch, is located south of Eagle.
Special to the Daily

When you have a question about where to ride or what trail conditions look like in the Eagle area, Charlie Brown, of Mountain Pedaler, is one of your go-to guys.

But even Brown doesn’t know what to expect in terms of trail possibilities in the Hardscrabble Ranch area. That’s because the location has never been open to the public. Or, rather, never been open to the public until now.

The Eagle County Open Space Department has determined it will allow limited public access on Hardscrabble Ranch for spring and summer 2018. The property has been closed since the county acquired it last December to allow a management planning process to get underway.

“I am just not familiar with that gulch,” Brown said. “I am excited that the area is going to be accessible, where it wasn’t before. That’s a big deal.”

According to Diane Mauriello, Eagle County open space director, the decision to open portions of the property was made in consultation with the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the current ranch lessee and other partners.

“We have been holding a series of small user group sessions, along with the BLM and Colorado Parks and Wildlife — the experts who will be instrumental in the planning,” she said. “There is still more planning to come, but we wanted all of the different users to have something to enjoy.”

Here’s what’s open

The following areas of the Hardscrabbble Ranch Open Space are now open for uses by the public as outlined:

• Paved recreation path, open to non-motorized users

• Trail Gulch, open to non-motorized users

• Fishing access to Brush Creek from the paved recreation path, open to non-commercial anglers

The ranch headquarters and working ranch property, as well as fishing on Brush Creek accessed via Brush Creek Road, remain closed to the public.

As they get their first opportunity to explore the lands, users are reminded to keep dogs on a leash at all times while on the Hardscrabble Ranch property.

Increased planning before additional access

More opportunities for future public access ranging from fishing to trails to potential hunting access to adjacent BLM lands will be explored as the management planning process unfolds.

The next steps in that process include public open house sessions on Thursday, May 17, and Wednesday, May 23. Both sessions are planned from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Brush Creek Pavilion. Participants can learn more about the Hardscrabble Ranch property and offer comments regarding future use. After compiling the information, Mauriello said the county will write a use plan for the property, which will then be vetted during additional public hearings.

“It’s going to be awhile before we know more about access,” Brown said, “But the possibilities coming down in the next two to five years are going to be great.”

More information on the process, including opportunities for public comment, is available at http://www.eaglecounty.us/openspace.

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