Stoveken: In defense of the Tenderfoot trail
December 27, 2012
As the owner of Silverthorne Power Sports, my business and customers are directly affected by whatever decision is made on the Tenderfoot Mountain issue. We have already seen a large decrease in business over the past years as more and more trails are closed down and our customers are forced to travel outside of the county to ride their motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles. This trend has affected my business and many other businesses in the county. Many of our customers have curtailed their riding or have dropped out of the sport entirely. It is my feeling that this is exactly what those opposing motorized recreation in the county are trying to achieve. However, I hope that you look at my views as coming from someone who understands those enthusiasts that are seeking the opportunity to ride motorized vehicles on single track trails in Summit County. Someone that has the opportunity to speak with those individuals on a daily basis and is willing to speak out on their behalf in an attempt to encourage all parties involved to compromise on the issue.
My initial feeling is that the county has chosen to attack the U.S. Forest Service Proposal and Environmental Assessment. They seem to be using this tactic to try circumvent an honest and up-front discussion with the groups involved.
The county comment on the environmental assessment regarding the size of the proposed trail system points to the possible number of riders on the trail on any given weekend. At 21 miles, this will not be a destination or a regional draw. There are other areas in the state that are much larger in scope located in communities that welcome motorized recreation into their areas. As a matter of fact, these are the areas that Summit County riders now visit since local areas have been shut down. Basically, the Tenderfoot trails will be used by local riders who want to ride at the end of a work day or on a Saturday morning before the family barbecue.
In one short paragraph, the county mentions the word illegal, as in “illegal motorized use or illegal activity,” six times! I think it is important to remember that this area was enjoyed legally by riders for many years before it was closed off. At that point, there may have been riders that continued to use the area. They may have known that it was closed off or they may not have known. The instances were few and have most assuredly been overblown by those that oppose this project. There are individuals who may feel that they have a right to ride wherever they choose. This is why the riding community spends millions each year to educate and erect signage to try and prevent people from riding in unauthorized areas.
In addition, the county questions the quality of the Forest Service report. It calls it full of inconsistencies and conjecture, with frequent inferences based on incomplete, inconclusive or unscientific evidence. Really? How is that a positive way to try and reach a compromise?
The county refers to noise impacts. It questions the manner in which two noise studies were conducted. I would challenge the county to conduct a noise study of any of the four resorts located in the county while snowmaking, grooming and even when the resorts are open to the public and show that the noise impact is any less than the motorized vehicles riding the Tenderfoot Trail area.
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I would like to encourage the county commissioners, the county planning department and others involved in this project to please lighten up on all of the negative politically based comments and demands and try to make this a positive experience for all parties involved. This project can be a good thing for Summit County residents. The riding community is willing to work to make this a reality. A perfect example on how well the riding community can work with the community is the motocross track that exists at the base of the Tenderfoot area. The track triggered a similar response from those in the community that oppose motorized use. It has been in existence for two years and is a great example of how opposing sides can work together towards a compromise.