Drainage issues, maintenance create concerns for officials
Forest Service reviews Elk Park Road options
Steamboat Springs — Forest Service officials are reviewing options for Elk Park Road, including closing the road to vehicles.
Elk Park Road, which starts on private property and ends on Forest Service land, provides access to Elk Park and the Mad Creek area.
“We will be working with the landowner and the public to determine what the best use for this road is,” said Diann Pipher, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service. “A lot of people use this road and the trail.”
Concerns have been raised about maintenance of the road, which is seven miles north of Steamboat Springs off County Road 36.
“It is a pretty bad strip,” said Ray George, Forest Service recreation manager. “A lot of times the road is next to a stream, which makes it hard to maintain.”
Because the three-mile road is steep and accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicles, the Forest Service has a tough time keeping the road open.
“Over the years, it has been tough to get the water off the road,” George said. “We have to close it during the winter and sometimes during the summer because it is muddy.”
Options the Forest Service is exploring include transforming the road into a trail, banning motorized vehicles or closing the road altogether.
“We haven’t reached that point yet where we would close it,” George said. “If we closed the road, it would limit the access to Elk Park considerably.”
Don Johnson, who has lived in the area for the past 16 years, is against the Forest Service closing the road.
“There is not a lot of access up here,” said Johnson, who owns Strawberry Park Hot Springs. “Elk Trail provides access to a lot of territory.”
Johnson said the road has served its purpose well by providing access to Elk Park, Bear Creek Trail and the Mad Creek area.
“They should leave it alone,” he said. “They should not be shutting down access points.”
Johnson said he is hopeful the Forest Service will get public input before a decision is made.
Pipher said the review of the road is in the preliminary stages and the public and neighbors will be asked for input. She said the Forest Service has not set a date for a decision.
“Whatever we do, we want to cooperate with the landowner and do what is right for the public,” Pipher said.
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