City kicks off campaign to better enforce Yampa River Core Trail etiquette
As Steamboat Springs continues to see more visitors and full-time residents moving to town, its trails are also being flooded with more traffic.
While all trails have gotten busier, Parks, Open Space and Trails Supervisor Jenny Carey said the Yampa River Core Trail is by far the city’s busiest, primarily because many use it as a commuter trail rather than just a recreational opportunity.
To combat some of the negative impacts from usage on the trail and to teach new users about proper trail safety, Steamboat’s Parks and Recreation staff have installed a series of signs on the sides of the Core Trail reminding users to announce themselves when passing others, pick up their trash and move aside for passengers moving faster than them.
The signs are on what Carey said is the busiest part of the trail — the stretch between the Art Depot Center and the Rotary Park Boardwalk.
“This just fits better on the urban corridor of the Core Trail, but the messages totally apply in all settings,” Carey said. “The nice thing is they’re mobile, so our vision is to move them around periodically to help keep them fresh and help folks to notice them.”
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Carey said the city has noticed an upward trend in trail usage over the past several years, but trail usage “exploded” during COVID-19, when people were anxious to get out and explore after being stuck at home most of the day.
“This has been a topic of conversation for a while, specifically about e-bikes over the last year,” Carey said. “It kind of became part of a bigger discussion about, as things are getting busier, these are some of the things people should remember about trail etiquette.”
Carey said signs are helpful but can also be easy to ignore, which is partly why Steamboat Springs Police Department has hired four seasonal community service officers who are stationed on and around the Core Trail.
The department hired the officers in 2016, when they also hired river rangers to enforce rules around the Yampa River. All community service officers were cut out of the city’s 2020 budget, but the department was able to bring them back for summer 2021.
“They’re more there for a meet and greet,” Steamboat Springs Police Department Chief Cory Christensen said. “They don’t have the training for enforcement.”
Officers stationed on bikes around the Core Trail are tasked with helping those who are lost and reminding people of rules on the trail. Christensen said most of the officers are recent high school graduates still living at home who are interested in careers in law enforcement or in earning extra money.
“We wanted to give them something meaningful to do,” Christensen said.
Christensen said the officers help with the city’s special events in early July then are stationed on the Core Trail for the remainder of the summer.
While Christensen said the job is meaningful, the department still has had difficulties filling the positions. To combat this, community service officers are paid $19 per hour and staffed at least 30 hours per week.
“Their job is really to just be seen up and down the Core Trail, ask people how things are going, give directions, those kinds of things,” Christensen said.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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