City, Forest Service complete last trail on Buffalo Pass
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Staff from the city of Steamboat Springs and the U.S. Forest Service have completed another trail on Buffalo Pass.
The Buffalo Billy’s Trail is the last trail to be completed on the Buffalo Pass Trails Environmental Assessment Project, according to Brendan Kelly, recreation specialist with the Forest Service. The project between the Forest Service and city was devised in 2016 and planned for the construction of about 40 to 50 miles of trails, Kelly said.
The latest trail is accessible by heading 2 to 3 miles up the Flash of Gold Trail and crossing the stream.
Since Buffalo Pass is technically federal land, funding for the trails came from a partnership between the city and the Forest Service. The Forest Service contributed about $20,000 toward the trails, and the city contributed about $50,000, Kelly said.
Winnie DelliQuadri, the city’s special projects/intergovernmental services manager, said it is unclear how much of the city’s funding went specifically toward the Buffalo Billy’s Trail because the city has not received an invoice yet but will receive one in the spring.
The city’s funding comes from a hotel and lodging tax dedicated to trail construction.
Steamboat City Manager Gary Suiter said the partnership between the city and Forest Service is unique and particularly beneficial to Routt County due to its high levels of tourism and outdoor recreation.
“We’ve had partnerships with federal agencies but never to where we’ve built trails on their property,” he said. “We’re a tourist destination, and one of the reasons for that is because of outdoor recreation.”
While more opportunities for outdoor recreation are always well received, Suiter said, residents have criticized the city for spending too much money on building trails and not enough on maintaining them.
“Next time, if we’re getting money approved for capital construction projects, we need to make sure we have money for maintenance,” he said.
Kelly said the Forest Service would not have been able to complete the project alone, so the funding from the city and construction assistance from Routt County Riders and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps helped make the trails possible.
“We have a pretty limited budget, so we wouldn’t have been able to facilitate the planning and construction of the trails without the support of Steamboat,” Kelly said. “One of the special things about this partnership is the community of Steamboat Springs voted to support trail expansion.”
The trail will be open in summer 2021, and DelliQuadri said the city did not use all the funding it had allotted for the project and plans to use the rest of its funds to implement signage for various trails on Buffalo Pass, which she said the city will complete in the spring.
Suiter said Buffalo Billy’s Trail will serve as another option to take the load off of Steamboat’s most trafficked trails, which take a lot of resources to maintain, such as trails on Emerald Mountain.
“Building more recreational facilities for the public to enjoy and for all ages enhances our attractiveness as a destination and recreation community,” he said.
Suiter said COVID-19 has only increased the community’s desire for outdoor recreation, and this trail will help provide another option to those anxious to leave their houses amid COVID-19 restrictions.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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