Cuke Gulch trail work could start in July
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Open Space Advisory Commission (BOSAC) members are a few easements and approvals away from creating a summer trails system through Cucumber Gulch on Peak 8.
Consultants from ERO Resources of Denver outlined the conceptual plans to the commission Monday night to ensure the proposed trail closures and relocations, interpretive signs, nature center, boardwalks and overlooks are in line with what they’d like to see in the fragile wetlands area.
Currently, 5.6 miles of summer trails there weave through the gulch in a disorganized fashion, which leads to the degradation of plant and animal habitat in the area. BOSAC hired ERO to develop a plan that would consolidate many of the trails and create signs and build boardwalks to keep people out of the wetlands.
Some trails, however, already exist on private property and might have to be moved. Town officials will need to obtain easements from landowners for others.
Before work can begin in the gulch, the town might have to do a biological assessment as it relates to the Canada lynx and obtain a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, which wants boardwalks to be high enough above the water to allow light to get underneath.
Additionally, town officials need to decide if they want to participate in a Candidate Conservation Agreement, which allows municipalities to establish strategies to minimize impacts to threatened species, including the boreal toad. Having such an agreement in place would allow the town to keep its strategies – rather than abandon them for more strict federal guidelines – if the toad should be placed on the federal list of endangered species.
ERO consultants’ plans eliminate all but 3.2 miles of the trails, move some from the water’s edge and provide interpretive signs and overlooks from which people can observe the wildlife in the wetlands.
Under the conceptual plans, access points to the gulch will be located at the Breckenridge Nordic Center, near the planned Peak 8 development, at the trailhead to the Peaks Trail and another in the Shock Hill development. The plans call for three – and possibly four – overlooks in the area.
Commissioner Ellen Hollinshead said she was concerned about the access point near the Peaks Trail, saying it could attract hundreds of people into the delicate gulch.
“I think it’s going to change when it’s a full-on development,” said Heide Andersen, the town’s open space and trails director. “People are going to go in there anyway.”
Hollinshead also was concerned about the proposal to eliminate a trail that heads into the gulch from the parking lot across the street from the Bergenhof Restaurant. She said it is a good connecting trail and isn’t often wet. Consultants, however, said they thought the trail was wet more often than not; the commission plans to revisit the gulch next month to reassess some of the trails.
Additionally, Hollinshead said she’d like some of the short social trails that provide a shortcut from the Interstate trail to a trail below to remain to give people options when strolling through the area. However, consultants said allowing those trails to stay would defeat the purpose of keeping trails in the gulch to a minimum.
BOSAC members hope to educate people about the valuable resource in the gulch – while protecting it against overuse. They also want people to keep dogs out of the wetlands and will designate certain trails as off-limits to dogs.
BOSAC members want to see the conceptual plans one more time before they approve them and send them to the town planning commission for review. Most of the changes are minor, however, and involve positively identifying trail locations, where trash cans should be located and which trails dogs will be permitted to use.
BOSAC members hope to ask the planning commission for a variance to allow dogs on the Interstate trail June 3 and to send the proposed master plan to the town council the following week.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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