Tenderfoot trail plan comments due Monday
December 13, 2012
Summit County staff members are leading an effort to compile input from officials and the public to submit to the U.S. Forest Service by the comment period deadline for the Tenderfoot Mountain motorized trail proposal.
The comment period for the contentious proposal for a 21-mile singletrack motorized system in Tenderfoot Mountain closes Monday.
Kate Berg, senior planner for the county, has sought input from residents and has brought the concerns about the proposal to the Snake River Planning Commission and Summit County Commissioners.
“We’re trying to gauge what the public wants. In the past we’ve had several Summit County residents opposed to a singletrack motorized system in the Tenderfoot area,” Berg said. “We’re concerned about the inconsistencies in the environmental assessment and want to ensure that all possibilities have been considered.”
Opponents say the project would disrupt residents, wildlife and the environment, while supporters of the system say the trail is a modest request from an unfairly maligned recreation group.
Tuesday, county officials presented concerns to Summit County commissioners with a mix of trail proponents and critics present for the public work session.
Commissioners shared concern about holes in the environmental analysis released by the Forest Service Nov. 15, kicking off the 30-day comment period.
“My number one priority is to make sure we have a quality National Environmental Policy Act process with good, scientific data and an accurate analysis,” said Karn Stiegelmeier, a county commissioner. “I think it’s in everyone’s interest to make sure that we’re not impacting wildlife and habitat for future generations by providing so much recreation in one place that we’re losing that resource.”
Stiegelmeier added that due to the extensive comments concerning the way the noise analysis was conducted during the scoping period, an additional study that includes a wildlife component should be conducted.
Numerous comments have asserted that the county has taken the side of the opponents to the system. Commissioner Thomas Davidson, however, said the county is not leaning to one side or the other.
“It’s really our responsibility to look at this situation critically,” Thomas said. “This doesn’t mean that we’re against the user group… I would think we’d even get to a point where we as Summit County would be willing to show up with meaningful dollars on an ongoing basis to collaborate on oversight and management with the Forest Service and Summit County Off Road Riders.”
The motorized recreation community say they need a place to go as the county offers limited singletrack terrain.
“We only have 6 miles of singletrack in Golden Horse Gulch,” said Carolanne Powers. “Our right to recreate has be taken away from us. We’re trying to pass the proposed trail system as responsible riders that will help maintain the integrity of the area and enforce rules and regulations.”
Summit Daily reporter Caddie Nath contributed to this report.