Slate River Working Group Update

Slate River Working Group Early Season Update

Happy spring, Slate River floaters!

As snow melts in the high country, our local rivers begin to swell, and migrating Great Blue Herons return to their nesting grounds in the Slate River Valley, we are writing to ask for your participation in our community’s effort to balance recreation on the Slate River with protection of Crested Butte’s high-elevation heron nesting colony.  

The Great Blue Heron rookery in the Slate River Valley is one of the highest-elevation rookeries known, located in a unique and fragile wetland complex. Currently, Great Blue Herons are returning from their winter migration have occupied 13 nests, and Western Colorado University researchers will be keeping a close watch on the population this spring and summer.  Breeding, nesting and rearing of chicks will be taking place in the coming months, and research is indicating that reducing recreational impacts near the rookery until mid-July, when chicks begin to fledge, may help increase chick survival rates and the number of occupied nests in the colony.  

As we enter the fourth successful season of the voluntary no-float period, join us in honoring the no-float period on the Upper Slate River between Gunsight Bridge and the Slate River Boat Launch through July 15th in order to protect the Great Blue Heron rookery. Floating elsewhere during the herons’ sensitive nesting period reduces disturbance to the birds, allowing them the best chance for survival.  If you plan to float the Slate River prior to July 15, please plan to float the Lower Slate between the Slate River Boat Launch on Pyramid Avenue and Brush Creek Road. Thank you!  

Here are a few more tips for floating the Slate River this season: 

  • Leave your dogs at home to prevent trespassing and to reduce negative wildlife and livestock encounters. 
  • Most of the land on either side of the river, including the river bottom, is private property. As you float the Slate, watch for signs indicating private and public property boundaries posted along the river, and please take care to avoid trespassing on private property. 
  • As the cattle grazing season begins, river fences will be going up – get low and glide underneath.
  • The new Slate River Boat Launch on Pyramid Avenue will be open to users this spring, and floater access at the Rec Path Bridge will be closed. Please plan to enjoy this new amenity as the Town of Crested Butte closes the areas adjacent to the Rec Path Bridge to undertake restoration and improvements there this summer.

For more information about the Slate River Working Group, please visit:

Our thanks, and please be safe out there!

The Slate River Working Group


Slate River Working Group Co-conveners:

Crested Butte Land Trust Town of Crested Butte

Jake Jones, Executive Director Janna Hansen, Parks, Rec, Trails & Open Space Director

970-349-1206 970-349-5338

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