USFS to designate trails, roads in plan
SUMMIT COUNTY – Now that the Revised Forest Plan is complete, White River National Forest representatives would like to know which trails and roads in Summit County should be included in the Forest Service system.
“The most important thing at this juncture is to identify all of the routes people would like to have included in the analysis,” said Jamie Connell, district ranger for the Dillon Ranger District. “What we want is to have them on the map. We need to know which trails to make as our final system.”
When trails become part of the forest system, they are maintained and monitored by Forest Service officials, who also determine whether or not the trails are available for motorized or mechanized use. There are currently very few system trails in Summit County. The Colorado Trail, the Peaks Trail and Spruce Creek are part of the existing handful. Most heavily used trails in Summit County are located on Forest Service land but are not included in the system. Forest Service officials want to identify all local trails to determine if they should be included in the system, placed under mitigation, opened to summer and winter motorized and mechanized users or closed because of detrimental environmental impacts.
Forest Service officials are working with Summit Fat Tire Society (SFTS), representatives who have a fairly clear idea of trails they want to include into the system.
“We’re looking at about 150 miles in expansions,” said JD Donovan, president of SFTS. “We’re looking at trails in Soda Creek, Horseshoe Gulch, on (Mount) Baldy — even some things in the Tenmile Range. The impression I’m getting from the Forest Service is they want to move development into heavily used areas and save the core area, keep (it) less heavily developed. It’s in the best interest of the forest to do that. These trails are heavily used regardless. Our basic philosophy is, if a trail is causing environmental problems, it needs to go. If it is a trail that can be worked on and meets with environmental (impact criteria), it needs to stay.”
Forest Service representatives said that some trails, such as the Ho Chi Minh trail located off of Gold Hill, probably will be renamed if they are designated part of the system.
“When we were doing scoping with the Forest Service a couple years ago, I pointed out Vomit Hill, and they said, `No, no, no! We can’t call it that,'” Donovan said. “They have to maintain some level of professionalism. There are lots of places with nicknames that stick.”
The purpose of Tuesday’s meeting is for White River Travel Management planners to get a better idea of what trails are important to different trail users.
“There are some trails that are just in bad places in terms of grades, wetland areas and wildlife habitat,” said Mike Zobbe, vice president of the SFTS. “Dense trails like some the dirt bikers want should maybe be shifted. A lot of trails out there are redundant. They’ve evolved next to other trails. Lesser-known trails that are locals’ secrets should be put in the system but not advertised. Realistically, you can put them on a list of trails that need to be worked on and make it a Fat Tire Society project down the line. That’s the idea behind the meeting next week – throwing out ideas. What do the hikers want? What do the bikers want? What does the motorized community want?”
Forest Service officials want to make it clear that no section of the forest is in consideration to be closed to walking traffic.
“It provides general direction to which activities can occur in the forest,” Connell said of the Travel Management Plan. “This will be the first of many meetings.”
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