Fishing or private property? Signs confuse anglers on a stretch of Eagle River
Wildlife manager admits it's confusing but says fisherman still have access on 2.4-mile stretch of river
EAGLE — It’s easy to understand the confusion of prospective fisherman as they check out their prospective access to the north side of the Eagle River just east of Eagle.
One large sign, which features the dated but still official Colorado Division of Wildlife logo, states “Welcome to your state wildlife area.” A small, yellow sign attached to the fence border tersely states “Private Property. No Fishing. No Trespassing. No Excuses.”
Which one should be believed? The answer is both.
“It is confusing,” noted Craig Wescoatt, a wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “What that lease is about is a roughly 2.4 mile stretch of the river that is open to fishing only.”
The access dates back to the 1970s and it includes three locations which allow fishing-only access along 25-foot easements that extend directly from the shoulders of U.S. Highway 6 to the high water point of the river. The southern part of the river, the southern riverbank and any land outside of the 25-foot easement is private property and off-limits.
Through the years, the location of the access points has shifted as the private property owners changed the uses on their land.
“We have worked to have those access points out of an irrigated pasture or someone’s house,” Wescoatt said.
Merv Lapin is one of the landowners whose property is affected by fishing access. He said CPW encouraged him to post the private property signs so fishermen know to stay on a straight path to the river.
“They shouldn’t go wandering all over the property,” Lapin said.
Wescoatt said the new signs have resulted in people asking if the access has been eliminated or is being discouraged. Neither, he said.
“There will always be three access points along that stretch, at the least,” Wescoatt said.
But as always, fishermen should only cross the fence at the turnstiles, then proceed in a direct line to the river.
“Those fishing access points are for access to the river only and there is no other access to the property and no other use allowed,” Wescoatt said.