GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Colorado Parks and Wildlife puts a lot of serious thought into the naming of its recreation facilities, but it didn’t take long for Sam Caudill’s name to rise to the surface when it came time to name a popular fishing and boating access along the Roaring Fork River.
“We didn’t hesitate at all,” said Kevin Wright, area wildlife manager for the CPW at a Wednesday ceremony honoring the late former state wildlife commissioner and renowned Aspen architect.
“Sam loved to hunt and he loved wild places,” Wright said. “He was the persona of wild lands and the outdoors.”
The CPW recently acquired the boat launch, located beneath the old Westbank bridge at the intersection of County Roads 154 and 109, for $200,000 using funds generated from hunting and fishing license sales. It had been operated under lease to the state wildlife agency for about 30 years.
On Wednesday, with members of Caudill’s family, including his wife Joy Caudill in attendance, along with several CPW representatives, it was officially named the “Sam Caudill State Wildlife Area.”
Known as Aspen’s “Mountain Man,” Caudill left his mark during his more than four decades as an architect in Aspen starting in the 1950s, and was renowned for blending his works with the surrounding natural environment.
He was also instrumental in shaping some of the environmentally sensitive design elements for the stretch of Interstate 70 that passes through Glenwood Canyon.
A native of Oklahoma and a World War II veteran, it was his influence as a member of the Colorado Wildlife Commission from 1975-1983 that was recognized on Wednesday.
Caudill is credited for a law that allows Colorado citizens to contribute part of their state income tax return to the non-game and endangered species program.
Attending the ceremony along with Joy Caudill was their son, Robin Caudill and his wife, Janice, their daughter Jody Cardamone and her husband Tom, and granddaughter Kate Cardamone.
“As his son-in-law for 35 years, I learned from the stories he knit together how his family was connected to the landscape,” Tom Cardamone said. “The re-telling of those stories enlivened him.”
Prior to Caudill’s death in 2007, Cardamone said he remembered taking him out into the backcountry with his walker, a lawn chair and a muzzle loader, and listening to some of those stories again.
“This isn’t just a boat launch,” he said, motioning to the newly named recreation facility. “It’s a place to launch stories, and to connect friends and families to the land.”