The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) has announced the first project funded by sales of the Colorado Habitat Stamp.  "We are pleased to announce the acquisition of a perpetual easement to a mile and half stretch of the Arkansas River in Lake County," said DOW Director Bruce McCloskey. The easement, known as the Hardeman Property, runs along both sides of the Arkansas just north of the current site of the Granite State Wildlife Area.

Previously, the Hardeman section was open to public access through a short term lease.  The availability of funds from the sale of Habitat Stamps made it possible to secure a perpetual easement to ensure public access forever.

The cost of the perpetual easement was $99,000.  Funds collected from the sale of the habitat stamp covered $89,000 and Trout Unlimited pitched in $10,000.

"The addition of the Hardeman Property to existing State Wildlife Areas along the river creates a terrific destination for anglers heading to Lake and Chaffee Counties," said Salida resident Dan Larkin, chairman of the citizen's committee that reviews Habitat Stamp projects.

"Lake County has been fully supportive of this project," said Lake County Commissioner Ken Olsen.  "I have nothing but praise to the Division of Wildlife and their efforts to ensure public access to a critical stretch of river that just keeps getting better and better," he said.

The upper Arkansas River is one of the finest brown trout fisheries in Colorado.  Throw in a wild rainbow or two, and anglers can look forward to perpetual public access to a stretch of water that is open year around.

"The Hardeman property is one of the few sections of the upper Arkansas that doesn't ice over in the winter," said Mark Cole, the president of the Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited.  "TU is proud to help fund a portion of this project to keep public a very productive fishery," Cole said.

"It's gratifying to have the first parcel preserved with habitat stamp funds located along the Arkansas River," said Colorado Wildlife Commissioner Tim Glenn who lives in Chaffee County.  "The Habitat stamp program is an absolutely wonderful program.  This purchase represents an excellent opportunity for public fishing access and to preserve the wildlife related habitat along the river.  It is a huge benefit to the state of Colorado as well as Lake and Chaffee Counties," Glenn said.

The Hardeman easement is divided into two sections along both sides of the Arkansas River.  The lower section begins at the Lake-Chaffee County line and runs north for one mile.  There is a small section of private land, and then public access starts again and runs north for a third of a mile.  The public access portions are marked with green and white Division of Wildlife signs.

The Colorado Habitat Stamp concept was developed by concerned hunters, anglers and conservation organizations, and approved by the Colorado State Legislature in 2005.

Funds are raised through the sale of a $5 mandatory habitat stamp purchased by hunters and anglers for the first two licenses they purchase during each calendar year. The maximum sportsmen are required to pay is $10 a year.

People who do not buy a hunting or fishing license, but want to support efforts to preserve wildlife habitat, can purchase a Colorado Habitat stamp wherever hunting or fishing licenses are sold. 

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.