The Lake County Open Space Initiative prioritized the identification and preservation of lowland riparian habitats along the Arkansas River and its tributaries, as well as the adjacent range lands and forested ecotone edge that support the habitat needs of over 250 species of resident and transitory wildlife species, for all, or part of their life cycle. These protected lands support fish spawning habitat, big game winter, calving and transitional range, wildlife migration corridors, and nesting habitat for migratory birds along the Arkansas River Flyway.

The 8,000 plus acres of the Open Space provide a buffer from development, a landscape linkage between the Mosquito and Sawatch Ranges, and protected habitat for a vast array of wildlife, thanks to the consensus based management direction provided by the Lake County Open Space Initiative Ecosystem Management Plan .

Management Objectives of the Plan include: protection of endangered, threatened, and sensitive species and their habitat; enhancement of winter range conditions; protection and enhancement of habitat for migratory birds and waterfowl; returning range vegetation to its sustainable, pre-irrigated condition; affording watchable wildlife opportunities; restoration of impacted habitats; and retention of traditional hunting and fishing opportunities.

Utilizing techniques such as rotational grazing as a management tool to enhance winter range, the ranch lands of the Open Space have seen a significant increase in use by big game species. From occasional sightings of elk on the Ranches in decades past, as many as 700 elk can now be observed wintering on the Open Space when snows in the high country, and encroachment from surrounding residential development, shrink available foraging areas. Sightings of antelope, rare visitors to the Upper Basin in years past, are now common place. Environmental cleanup of the floodplain through the LCOSI reach of the Arkansas River by Initiative Partners has resulted in its designation as a Gold Medal Fishery, and a once contaminated waterway is now a nationally recognized, self-sustaining brown trout fishery.

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