Outdoor opportunities abound on B&B land
BRECKENRIDGE – Opportunities abound in the Golden Horseshoe.
That’s why Summit County and the town of Breckenridge are so optimistic about buying the 1,842 acres of B&B Mines land in the area to preserve it for its open space, visual, natural, cultural, historical and recreational uses.
The county has been setting aside money for years for its half of the $9 million purchase. The town of Breckenridge will ask its voters to approve a general obligation bond April 6 for its share. The money will be repaid via future open space revenues, which are generated by an existing half-cent sales tax.
Acquiring the five parcels in the Swan River and French Gulch drainages that make up the B&B land will assure public access to more than 8,600 acres of town-owned, county-owned and U.S. Forest Service lands on which thousands of people play each year.
“A lot of access portals could easily be shut off if someone decides to develop on that land,” said Heide Andersen, open space and trails director for the town. “It’s happened in quite a few areas.”
Without access to the B&B Mines land, recreational users wouldn’t be able to access the Carpenter, Golden Gate and Detroit placer lands, she noted.
The Golden Horseshoe offers more than 100 miles of trails for mountain bikers, hikers, runners, horse riders, snowshoers, Nordic skiers, snowmobilers and off-road vehicle enthusiasts.
Two equestrian centers – one along Tiger Road and the other at the municipal center along Wellington Road – are already available.
Brown’s Gulch is a migratory corridor for elk and deer. The land features acres of riparian habitat and is home to a genetically pure strain of the state-threatened Colorado River cutthroat trout.
There are stands of old growth subalpine forest in Brown’s Gulch, and bristlecone pine in other locations.
Culturally, the Horseshoe still has old mining cabins, the relics of old mines and mills, the remnants of two dredge barges and a cemetery in Parkville.
And while all of that attracts thousands of people, the town and county hope to make it even better.
Nothing is set in stone, but open space officials want to continue to allow for as much varied use on the land as possible.
Some improvements will likely include construction of parking areas at trailheads, trail restoration and signage.
Andersen said there is an average of more than eight miles of trails in every square mile of land in the Golden Horseshoe, representing a spaghetti-like network of motorized and nonmotorized summer and winter use options.
Much of that might need to be consolidated into trails that work more efficiently and have less of an impact on the environment.
The town and county will hold public meetings for various user groups to determine if some recreational uses – notably skiing and snowmobiling – should be separated.
Signage is another challenge.
“The locals know where to go,” Andersen said. “The locals know how to make the trail connections. But for anyone who doesn’t know the area, it’s easy to get lost. It’s intimidating.”
Other signs might be erected to help people better understand the historic resources in the Golden Horseshoe, including the Jessie Mill, Wellington-Oro and Royal Tiger Mine sites as well as the dredge boats and town sites.
Town officials also hope to expand Nordic skiing operations onto the Peabody Placer – Great Outdoors Colorado just granted the town $600,000 toward purchase of the Peobody Placer – from where skiers can access other backcountry terrain.
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