Jan Cutts: Weighing the options for motorized use
Dillon District Ranger
Summit County, CO Colorado
Recently, letters to the editor, articles, and editorials have been published in Summit Daily News regarding motorcycle use in the Tenderfoot/Frey Gulch area. I cannot respond to all of them here, but there are a few issues I’d like to address.
There are two proposals for this area; both with the same goal of formalizing motorcycle use that has occurred there for decades. The White River National Forest Travel Management Plan (TMP) Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement includes an alternative (G) proposing to maintain 3.4 miles of road as open to full-sized vehicles; convert 11.4 miles of road to single-track motorized trail; maintain 1.2 miles of single-track motorized trail; adopt 1 mile of non-system single track motorized trail; close the 2-mile Oro Grande Trail to ATVs; and maintain the 0.8-mile Tenderfoot Trail and Keystone Stables trails as closed to motorized use. This alternative was developed by the Forest Service in consideration of current use patterns, existing local government master plans, and public comments during the first round of public input to the TMP in 2006.
The second proposal (separate from TMP) is a design and environmental analysis for additional motorcycle trails in the area. By additional, I mean more of the existing routes would be added to the Forest Service travel system. There would be some new trails to complete loops, but primarily the proposal is to evaluate existing routes already on the ground. This process will not begin until and unless the final TMP decision provides for motorcycle use in the area and therefore allows for consideration of this proposal. The trail design and environmental analysis process is possible through partnership between Summit County Off-Road Riders and Colorado State Parks OHV Grant Program.
Through both proposals, several miles of user-created trails would be closed, at least 5 miles of existing roads would be closed, a net decrease in miles of motorized routes in the area would result, and all routes except for those maintained as roads would be closed to ATVs.
The Oro Grande Trail is comprised of four sections of land administered by Forest Service, Summit County, Town of Dillon, and Denver Water Board. The trailhead adjacent to the Dillon Cemetery and the area to the west traditionally known as the “Motocross Area” is located on lands administered by Summit County government. If any jurisdiction decides to close its lands to motorized use, the Forest Service may implement a similar closure. Closing these areas and trails should address many of the concerns raised by the local residents.
Much concern has been expressed regarding potential impacts to wildlife, wildfire threat, rewarding illegal use, other areas for motorcycle use, and the ability of the Forest Service to enforce laws. All of these concerns can be explained and/or clarified, but not in this short commentary; they will be addressed as we move through the travel management planning processes.
In the next several months, my staff and I will be working with local residents, Town of Dillon, and Summit County to share valid information, facilitate a better understanding of what is proposed, and discuss how issues may be mitigated.
This is an emotional issue for residents and users alike. I have heard loud and clear the concerns expressed by residents of Corinthian Hills, Summerwood, and Keystone and I will make every effort to address their issues. I have also heard from motorcycle riders who want to maintain a riding opportunity and are open to compromise. This is the public process at work, and while not easy, I trust that it will lead us to the right decision.
Jan Cutts is ranger for the Dillon District of the White River National Forest.
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