CARBONDALE, Colo. – Nearly 70 family members, friends, wildlife officers and local dignitaries gathered for a private ceremony Saturday morning to honor former wildlife officer Bob Terrell, as Colorado Parks and Wildlife dedicated the former Koziel boat launch – one of the most popular places for anglers to access the Roaring Fork River – to the memory of the legendary game warden.
Terrell was a former beaver trapper who, like many of his era, was “given a badge, a gun and a pickup and was told to go forth and protect our resource,” said Area Wildlife Manager Perry Will, who led the effort to rename the Koziel boat launch.
Terrell didn’t have to be told twice. During a 33-year career, Terrell came to epitomize the “old-school” game cop – a tough, fair and hard-working law enforcement officer with a biologist’s eye for detail and a boundless passion for wildlife and wild places. From 1937 on, Terrell managed some of the best big-game habitat in the West during an era when Colorado’s wildlife staged a dramatic recovery after decades of over-harvest.
“To this day, people ask me if I knew Bob,” said Will. “He knew so many people, had so many experiences, and did so many interesting things that it was an honor just to listen to him talk about his life.”
Friends, family and former colleagues recalled Terrell as a skilled outdoorsman who captivated listeners with accounts of his adventures and his unmatched knowledge of the local wildlife. He was always ready to share the insights gained from his many years in the field hunting, trapping and angling and became a mentor to many sportsmen, young and old.
“A great man, just great,” said his son, Dale Terrell, 70. “He did his job the best he could, he was well liked, and everybody knew him.”
He also believes that his father’s knowledge and influence may have helped engineers determine the final path Interstate 70 would take after Terrell expressed concerns to a wildlife commissioner about the impact the interstate’s originally proposed route would have on elk and mule deer. Today, I-70 motorists marvel at the geology of Glenwood Canyon while deer and elk continue to thrive in the habitat Terrell helped save.
Terrell said his father was not only effective in the field, he also kept good records and was able to provide information to hunters who had questions about the newly required hunter safety class long after retiring in 1970. He also said his father spent many days after retirement either helping biologists stock fish, or providing his successor with important knowledge about managing wildlife in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Relatives sharing stories at the dedication described Terrell in a variety of ways, ranging from him being a wonderful man but also a tough taskmaster while teaching his grandson how to fly fish properly, his effective teasing skills, his ability to perform elk bugle calls by mouth, or his knack of catching fish where no one else could. A common memory was his skills as a clever wordsmith who could turn even a mundane comment into poetry.
Born in Minturn in 1909, Terrell came of age during the hardscrabble years of the Great Depression. His nephew, 84-year-old Chuck Terrell, fondly remembered how hunting and fishing alongside his uncle helped get his family through tough times, even if he picked up enough of his uncle’s hard-headedness to earn an occasional spanking.
“He taught me quite a bit about being ornery,” Terrell said with a wistful grin. “He would have been very proud of this.”
Located under the Highway 133 bridge to Carbondale that crosses the Roaring Fork River, the Bob Terrell State Wildlife area is one of more than 300 wildlife areas in Colorado. It is considered one of the busiest boat launches in the state, as it provides access to the famed, gold medal fishing waters of the Roaring Fork River.
For more information on the Bob Terrell State Wildlife Area, please contact Glenwood Springs Colorado Parks and Wildlife office at 970-947-2920.
For more information about State Wildlife Areas, please visit: http://wildlife.state.co.us/LandWater/StateWildlifeAreas/Pages/swa.aspx