Letter to the editor: Area above the tunnel should be off-limits for recreation | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the editor: Area above the tunnel should be off-limits for recreation

Jonathan Bowers


On May 18, the Summit Daily News reported that the snowboarders who triggered an avalanche near the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels in March 2020 are expected to accept a plea agreement in June.

The major push by the 5th Judicial District to prosecute these two men has stood on the idea that they be “held responsible for their behavior and that backcountry users understand that their actions can have serious consequences.”

But District Attorney Heidi McCollum’s hopeful idea of deterrence has been unsuccessful. Why? Because I work up at the tunnels and have seen at least one person ski down through this area, walk to his car and drive off — thankfully without an avalanche triggered. Granted, while my eyes are not examining this area 24/7, this is happening.

McCollum and her office would be better off dropping these charges entirely and instead working with the Colorado Department of Transportation to keep skiers/riders out of this popular area, with legal consequences for those not only caught recreating in the area but also for those who trigger an avalanche.

Because what is more important to keeping the road behind the tunnel and its drivers safe: hoping that punishing two snowboarders will garner enough publicity to keep others out of the area or putting up signage, barriers and legal notices to indicate the area is off-limits for recreation?

I can tell you that the answer isn’t the former, as the 5th Judicial District hopes to believe.



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