Jeff Westcott, owner and promoter of last weekend's Firecracker 50 mountain bike race in Breckenridge, could lose his special events permit as a result of taking motorized equipment onto a designated non-motorized Forest Service trail to clear snow in preparation for the Independence Day race.
Westcott holds a recreation/special event permit for the Firecracker 50 and other events on Forest Service lands, Forest Service spokesman Pat Thrasher said. That permit has terms and conditions that must be met according to the Code of Federal Regulations.
"There was heavy snowfall this year, so as the event was approaching, part of the route was under snow," he said. Without prior approval from Forest Service officials, Westcott mechanically removed snow from Little French Trail off French Gulch Road in the week leading up to the race.
Thrasher said Westcott is facing administrative action that could go so far as revoking his permit, though exact action is to be determined. He faces two tickets for violations of the provisions of the code.
"The Forest Service recognizes that events like the Firecracker 50 do support the local economy ... these events are appropriate uses of national forest lands," Thrasher said, adding that Westcott has been a permit holder for years.
"But, we have a responsibility to protect public safety and protect resources we're managing," he added. He said anyone who uses the forest should do so responsibly.
Westcott didn't comment on the possibility of losing his permit, though he did say he would accept the ramifications of making the call to remove snow that was "5 feet deep in places for several hundred linear feet" along the trail.
"It would have required (about) 160 person hours to shovel it," he said, "which was not accomplishable by race day - or not enough to allow for sufficient drying - which we were able to accomplish. I made the call to put a machine on it. I'm prepared for whatever legal ramifications the Forest Service comes back to me with."
Ken Waugh, Dillon Ranger District recreation staff officer, said Westcott is also permitted for the six races in the Summit Mountain Challenge, the Breck Crest Mountain Marathon and the Fall Classic. Breckenridge Open Space and Trails planner Scott Reid said if there's a blight on Westcott's record with the Forest Service, it could affect permitting through the town, as the two cooperate together with the county for permitting many events. A permit isn't valid if the other two permits don't exist, Reid said.
"I feel badly about the potential for a damaged relationship, but I think my 11-year track record with the Forest Service means hopefully the relationship will continue," Westcott said.