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In a move sure to gladden the hearts of both residents of and visitors to Chalk Creek Canyon, the Chaffee Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) has moved to write what is called a “Letter of Concurrence” to support the acquisition by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) of the parcel of land that includes Wrights Lake. The unanimous decision, on a motion made by Commissioner Keith Baker to support the title acquisition, was made during their Tuesday, Feb. 1 regular meeting.

The Wrights Lake parcel includes wetlands and land along Chalk Creek.

The roughly 35-acre parcel is privately owned and had been for sale for more than a year. Much of the land surrounding this popular fishing and hiking spot is public land, and CPW has stocked the lake with fish for some years. That arrangement has meant that CPW has been responsible for posting the rules of use for the parcel.

Purchase of the entire parcel will place CPW officially in charge of the entire area, which includes the lake, wetlands, some trails, and land along the Chalk Creek, which feeds the lake. While not within the parcel itself, the property offers stunning natural views of the Chalk Cliffs, as well as of the peaks of Mt. Antero to the west.

The state is known to apply strict standards to acquisitions of this kind. Because this sale arrangement involves both a private seller and a public entity, the Colorado legislature must approve the sale.

“The letter will say that we support, and do not object to this proposal,” explained County Attorney Daniel Tom. “They are not asking anything of us, except for our support of this effort. It might have to come back here, depending upon how the legislature acquires the property.

“It’s a good project, with a willing seller,” said Commissioner Rusty Granzella.

The Wrights Lake view of the Chalk Cliffs along the Chalk Creek flowage out of the lake. Photo by Jan Wondra.

Commissioner Greg Felt said that he would not comment, because Ark Anglers, a company in which he has ownership, has taken clients fishing at the lake.

The popular recreational spot is considered a county gem. It is one of the few parcels for fishing and enjoying open space in the lower Chalk Creek Canyon that is open to the public (made available to the public for years, by private owner John Worthington, known as a genuinely nice fellow and the former owner of Deer Valley Dude Ranch).

Worthington, contacted by phone, said he can’t comment until the legislature approves the transfer of ownership, but he clearly is pleased that an agreement has been made.

His stepson did add that the process with the state has taken more than a year. “He’s had a real desire for that property to continue to be open to the public to use. It’s such a unique piece of land and he’s wanted it to be open to all to enjoy.”

The place becomes even more special when you consider that much of the other private land in the lower canyon has given way to private residential homes and large vacation homes, many of them being offered as short-term rentals. When it was first offered for sale, local residents worried that it would be snatched up by some private fishing club and that public access would be terminated.

Throughout the past year, those concerned with open space and conservation within the county have informally discussed the property and hopes to preserve it for the enjoyment of all. The offer by CPW would appear to answer the hope that the beautiful area will remain available for public enjoyment.

Featured image: Looking northeast, the view across Wrights Lake on one of the trails in winter. Photo by Jan Wondra