Great blue herons claim a dreamy stretch of river near Crested Butte for high-altitude love nests
Beyond a boggy meadow studded with beaver ponds, along the Slate River where it meanders past a bottom-rung ridge of Mount Emmons, is a patch of prime wetlands-critter real estate.
Great blue herons have claimed it.
The busy avian penthouse subdivision here — believed to be the highest altitude great blue heron colony in Colorado – is currently home to 18 nesting pairs of herons. They have turned lodgepole pines along the Slate into a high-rise nursery for at least 40 gangly chicks.
The herons are here, a mile outside Crested Butte, because of an unlikely local volunteer effort.
In a town where outdoor recreation trumps just about all — where mountain bike and hiking trailheads and river put-ins are often stuffed to the gills, and where river restrictions have sparked ugly legal battles in the past — floaters and paddle boarders have agreed to stay off this 4.4 mile-long stretch of river from mid-March through mid-July.
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