GMF Leaders Say Yes to Winter Anglers at Gazebo Park Lake

Town  Seeks to Expand American Discovery Route

Rick Langenberg

The Green Mountain Falls’ Gazebo Lake Park, an area that has reaped the benefits of tens of thousands of dollars in enhancements in the last year, will soon become an ice-fishing free zone.

This could set the stage for hordes of winter anglers to use sections of the lake in GMF for preparatory action on the ice in pursuit of that prized catch, instead of heading to Eleven Mile Reservoir and Manitou Lake. In the process, they can enjoy post-fish enticements at local restaurants and eateries. They may not be able to set up elaborate huts like they can at larger bodies of water, but they could enjoy a more convenient fishing spot.

Last week, the GMF Board of Trustees signaled the informal green light in endorsing ice fishing activity at the Gazebo Park lake area, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of ice skaters and hockey players. They opted for establishing separate activity areas for lake users. Under a plan mulled at last week’s trustee session, ice fishing would be permitted near  the newly established pier area, while ice skating and hockey would occur near the Gazebo island.

“I think it is a great idea,” said GMF Trustee Nick Donzello. “It is the people’s lake.” He didn’t get any argument from his fellow trustees and from GMF staffers.

During a discussion item at their regular meeting on Jan. 9, the trustees gave the town staff the go-ahead for opening up the lake to winter angling activities.

Town Manager Beck Frank said the subject of ice fishing at the lake has arisen, partially due to the limited opportunities for participants of this winter activity in the Pikes Peak region. Ice fishing is extremely popular in northern sections of the country and has gained more notoriety in Colorado in recent years due to a very favorable winter climate for this sport.

She said officials from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife have expressed much optimism about the prospects of ice fishing at the Gazebolake area. “They were very excited about this,” admitted the town manager.

Frank cited fishing derbies and other activities related to winter angling in GMF.   At last week’s brief session, she touted the possible benefits associated with enhancing winter commerce in GMF, with anglers and their families using local restaurants and eateries and enjoying the park more.

Under this plan, the state would be willing to furnish the Gazebo lake with more fish during the wintertime, noted the town manager.

Frank stated that with the banning of ice fishing at Palmer Lake, a growing demand exists for winter angler spots in the region.  Hardcore participants of this sport are spotted along the shores of Eleven Mile Reservoir in Park County, with well-equipped winter gear.

“That is a really long drive,” admitted Frank, at the close of last week’s meeting. Some additional prospects exist at Manitou Lake, but these often don’t provide much in the way of on-the-ice preparatory work.

With GMF’s plan, patches of the lake ice for fishing and skating and hockey would be cleared by the town’s maintenance crew. Currently, she said the ice maintains a depth of six to nine inches, so believes it could work well for ice fishing, contingent on weather conditions.

With last week’s winter fishing go-ahead, the GMF staff will undergo the preparation work to set up a section for ice fishing. In addition, work will pursue for establishing regular areas for ice skating and hockey.

American Discovery Trail Improvements

Besides ice fishing at the lake, town leaders also are mulling additional outdoor recreational improvements in the form of enhancing the current American Discovery and Ute Pass trail that runs through town.

This is part of national coast-to-coast route that extends between Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware and Pt. Reyes, California, with key trail links located in the Pikes Peak region and Colorado.

The town is making a bid for a $200,000 grant for trail enhancements. Last week, the trustees gave the go-ahead to apply for these grant funds, part of an El Paso County Community Development Block Grant.

In a later interview, Frank said the local trail section that needs attention is the pedestrian road section on Ute Pass Avenue, eventually hooking into part of the route that extends onto Crystola and Woodland Park.

She said this section of the route is quite narrow and doesn’t mesh well with traffic flows on Ute Pass Avenue. The other part of the local GMF route, traversing from the east entrance of Green Mountain Falls to the Ute Pass Elementary School, is already in extremely good shape, according to Frank.  That section, consisting of a well-conditioned gravel route, is heavily used by joggers, hikers and locals, along with area canines.