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Arkansas River Community Preserve


The vision for the Arkansas River Community (ARC) Preserve is to provide protection of and access to one of the last undeveloped sections of the Arkansas River in Lake County in order to safeguard the Preserve's outstanding conservation and recreation values. The Preserve protects critical wildlife habitat, enhances the scenic values of the river and its shoreline, and offers exceptional passive recreational opportunities for anglers, hikers, and boaters.


the ARC Preserve

  • Where: The ARC Preserve is located along Highway 24 between Balltown (the turnoff to Independence Pass) and the Kobe Fishing Easement/Hayden Ranch.

  • What: The Preserve conserves almost three miles of Arkansas River frontage and protects crucial uplands and riparian habitat in Lake County.

  • Why: The Preserve helps to protect seasonal river overflows and high water tables which foster healthy wetlands and riparian zones, helping to maintain habitat for bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk, black bear, mountain lion, foxes, raptors, and more. The areas of the Preserve beyond the river frontage provide wildlife corridors and connectivity between public protected land and the Arkansas River.


The ARC Preserve is a multi-phase project aimed at conserving highly sensitive river and riparian habitat in southern Lake County. The Preserve protects a section of the Arkansas River that will be likely to see heavy development in the short-term. The protected area includes the Shawn Andrick Memorial Preserve and permanently protects nearly three miles of Arkansas River frontage and over 270 acres of land in Lake County, Colorado.  

The ARC Preserve is the result of decades of collaboration. Created in response to growing development pressure in Lake County, the Lake County Open Space Initiative (LCOSI) identified the area as high priority for protection. The Preserve is the result of a partnership that has spanned over a decade between Central Colorado Conservancy, Colorado Open Lands, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), Lake County, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Trout Unlimited, Gates Family Foundation, the Climax Mine, LCOSI, Natural Resources Damages (NRD) Trustees for California Gulch, and individual donors.

The current expanse protected within the ARC Preserve is the result of three different phases of acquisition and more than $3 million raised from funders, largely coming from the NRD Trustees and GOCO.

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The headwaters of the Arkansas River encompass Colorado's longest, 102-mile Gold Medal trout fishing waters, a hard-won distinction which certifies highest-order ecosystem health. Riparian resources including streamside willows and other shrub species provide shoreline stability while offering shade to feeding and breeding habitat for vibrant, fishable populations of trout, and are an integral habitat component which assures ecosystem health celebrated by Gold Medal status. Lake County is also looking to diversify their economy from a traditional mining based system to one not solely dependent on one industry. Part of this strategy is to increase public fishing and other outdoor recreation opportunities. The ARC Preserve will add to the public fishing access availability near the town of Twin Lakes. The Preserve will add to recreational opportunities and enjoyment for the people of Colorado, and at the same time help the economy of Lake County.

Central Colorado Conservancy took an extra step to ensure the ARC Preserve is forever protected by placing a conservation easement on its entire extent. The conservation easement is held by Colorado Open Lands. The Conservancy also donated a public access easement to Lake County, who will manage public access to the property for activities such as hiking and fishing. It is anticipated that the ARC Preserve will open to public uses in the summer of 2024, after a management plan is approved that will balance recreational uses with wildlife habitat protection.  



The work of the Central Colorado Conservancy  and its ARC Preserve partners is not done. Additional acquisitions for growing the size of the Preserve are now in the works, which will create more continuity of Conservancy-owned lands, increase connectivity to federal and state lands, and secure more equitable access to the Preserve. Phase 4 of acquisitions is taking place in 2024.


To learn more and support this effort, please visit this link.

All photos on this webpage are courtesy of Marc Bergreen.

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