By Mark Esper
The Colorado Division of Wildlife has raised concerns about restricted access to Molas Lake for fishing, but town officials say the measures are temporary as revegetation work is done on the shore.
Drayton Harrison, district wildlife manager for the DOW, said he has received some complaints from the public over the issue.
“As you all know,” Harrison told the Town Council on Monday, “we’ve stocked Molas Lake for I don’t know how many decades. In exchange, the town allows access for fishing.”
Harrison said that in the last couple years there has been a conflict as access to the lake was restricted during the park rehabilitation and dam construction.
“Since we’re in the fishing business, we’d like to see the public continue to be allowed access to the lake,” Harrison said.
Mayor Terry Kerwin said the Army Corps of Engineers has insisted the town protect the lake’s shore until revegetation is complete.
“We’re in a situation where we rebuilt the dam and we can’t let anybody walk around or camp or whatever in those areas until the revegetation is OK,” Kerwin told Harrison.
Town Trustee John Schertz, who holds the contract to manage Molas Lake Park, said he has also had to keep day users out of the campground to reduce thefts from campsites.
“I had no choice but to draw the line,” Schertz said. “I know that closes access to the lake.”
But Schertz said that still leaves a lot of shoreline for people to fish from, and boating is also permitted.
“No one has ever been told they can’t fish,” Schertz said. And Schertz said once revegetation is done, day-use access would expand two-thirds of the way around the lake.
Town officials also pointed to long-range plans that include a hiking path around the entire lake.
“The Division of Wildlife always wants full (public) access if we stock a lake,” Harrison said. “That’s kind of the rub right now.”
Trustee Pat Swonger said better communication on the issue is needed.
“I’ve heard from three or four people about this issue,” Swonger said. “Obviously we’re not communicating very well.”
“People from town can go up there and fish anywhere they want anytime they want,” Schertz said.