Ryan Gulch roadless status questioned | SummitDaily.com

Ryan Gulch roadless status questioned

BOB BERWYNsummit daily news

FRISCO – As part of a months-long process to formulate local input on management of national forest roadless areas, Summit County planners have recommended removing the roadless designation from the 632-acre Ryan Gulch parcel, surrounding the densely populated Wildernest area.”There will be some comment about that,” County Commissioner Bob French said during a recent work session, referring to this week’s BOCC public hearing on the roadless issue.The county’s recommendation is based on the need to reduce the danger of wildfire in the area, according to county manager Ron Holliday. But a letter from the Continental Divide Land Trust (CDLT) points out that there has already been extensive work done to lessen fire risks in the area and raises concerns about the possibility of more roads in the area.

That concern may be based in part on a proposal floated several years ago to build a second road from Wildernest to Frisco, an idea that was shot down but may have never died completely.The local land trust holds a conservation easement on the Giberson Ranch and advocates on behalf of Howard Giberson’s interests for the land on the hillside above Frisco. In their April 12 letter, CDLT president Dave Bittner and executive director Leigh Girvin asked the county commissioners to retain the roadless designation.”Given that so much of the original Giberson Ranch was taken for construction of Dillon Reservoir and Interstate 70, Howard felt that the remaining ranch lands on the hillside above Frisco were ‘sacred.’ He feared that any intrusion by roads into the buffer area adjacent to the Wildernest area and his ranch would diminish the wildlife habitat and natural qualities of the land,” Bittner and Girvin wrote.”We just want to make sure we can get access to the area,” Holliday said during the mid-May work session, suggesting that national environmental groups might use the roadless designation to try and block any forest health projects in the Ryan Gulch parcel.

Summit County residents will get their chance to weigh in on the Ryan Gulch parcel and the rest of the national forest roadless areas during the hearing Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at the county courthouse in Breckenridge. After the hearing, the BOCC will vote on a roadless resolution that will be submitted to a state roadless task force at a June 21 meeting in Glenwood Springs.The Ryan Gulch parcel is the smallest roadless area in Summit County. Altogether, the county recommends maintaining the roadless status across about 60,000 acres of national forest system land, while ensuring existing access rights and acknowledging the need for potential forest health treatments on the lands. The BOCC will hold a public hearing on roadless area management Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. at the County Courthouse, 208 East Lincoln Avenue in Breckenridge. Questions, comments or requests related to the draft roadless resolution should be directed to katen@co.summit.co.us or by phone to (970) 668-4204.

For more information on the roadless issue, go to http://www.summitdaily.com/roadless. The link includes recent roadless stories on basin planning commission hearings, as well as extensive documentation on the history and timeline of the roadless planning process, as well as maps of roadless areas in Summit County and site-specific county recommendations.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at bberwyn@summitdaily.com.

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