The Lake County Open Space Initiative has become a voice for disseminating the message of land and water conservation, historic preservation, resource protection, and sustainable growth practices.

The Initiative constructed the High Lonesome and Sawatch Range Interpretive Trails linking the Hayden Meadows Recreation Area and Kobe River Access Portal, which include information kiosks, demonstrations, and interpretive low profile wayside exhibits describing the habitats, history, and multiple uses that are satisfied by a healthy ecosystem, as well as the efforts that have been expended to restore the river to a healthy state following the impacts of historic mining activities upstream. The wetland boardwalks and wildlife observation platform provide a low impact travel corridor for accessing the wetland and lowland riparian habitats within the floodplain of the Arkansas River.

LCOSI has sponsored and televised public workshops on Forest Health, following the dramatic spread of the Mountain Pine Beetle, and Watershed Health in response to the introduction of invasive aquatic species such as the Zebra and Quagga mussels into waters of the State. State representatives, federal agencies, and industry experts were invited to share their knowledge with the community on the state of the forest and watershed, the threats to the resource, and the steps that the public could participate in to help prevent resource damage in Lake County.

LCOSI also sponsored field visits to the National Historic Landmark Districts on the Hayden and Derry Ranches, and hosted the Ranch Heritage Days celebration to emphasize the inter-relationship of our mining and ranching heritage and to demonstrate the ongoing stabilization efforts at the Hayden Headquarters Historic Landmark District.

Site visits to the remediation areas along the 11-Mile Reach of the Arkansas River running through the Open Space provided the public with a better understanding of work being done to help the river heal itself from the environmental affronts of historic mining practices, and a series of River Restoration Workshops brought in experts from the Rocky Mountain Region to discuss remediation and restoration techniques that have succeeded and failed in similar settings, leading to the inception of projects such as the Union Creek Pilot Project to put some of the bio-engineering theories into practice in the Upper Arkansas River Valley.

LCOSI also supported public education efforts such as Water Aware 2004 and 2011, which brought public awareness to the importance and challenges of developing an adequate water supply to meet the County’s needs, and the National Summit of Mining Communities, that provided a forum for sharing resource related issues and solutions common to mining communities across the United States.

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