Forest Service seeks feedback on new Buffalo Pass trails |

Forest Service seeks feedback on new Buffalo Pass trails

— Big changes are envisioned for the Buffalo Pass area, and the U.S. Forest Service is accepting feedback on a plan to build or designate more than 42 miles of trails.

The project is one of many identified by a trails committee composed of community volunteers. The committee is planning how to best spend the estimated $5.1 million expected to be generated from a 1 percent tax on lodging throughout the next decade. Many of the projects are proposed on public lands.

“Buff (Pass) is just the perfect place to start,” U.S. Forest Service project leader Kent Foster said.

Members of the public have until May 19 to comment on the project. Foster said about 20 people have commented so far.

If everything goes as planned, the new trails will be surveyed and flagged out this summer, Foster said. Analysis would be completed this winter, and trail building is set to begin next summer.

The public can view full details of the project and learn how to comment by visiting the Routt National Forest website and then clicking on “projects” under the “land and resources management” tab.

The purpose of the project is to develop and manage a sustainable trail system.

“A sustainable trail system is one that minimizes impacts on resources and requires minimal maintenance,” the plan states.

Currently, there are a limited number of designated trails in the Buffalo Pass area, but there are several illegally built trails that are popular with some local cyclists.

Foster said they are trying to prevent people from building any more of those. Some of those existing user-created trails would be incorporated into the new trail system.

Foster said they have received one comment from a person who liked how the user-created trails were gnarly and rough.

“We plan on keeping some of them gnarly and rough,” Foster said.

In addition to being challenging, some of the user-created trails have great rock features, Foster said.

“We want to keep those features in there,” he added.

To prevent future user-created trails, wheeled vehicles like bicycles would not be allowed to go off designated roads and trails.

With the addition of trails, the Forest Service anticipates more people will use the area, and improvements would be made to the Dry Lake parking area.

The Buffalo Pass area is currently accessible to hikers and bikers from town via the Spring Creek Trail. The Forest Service plan calls for building a new Spring Creek trail to complement the existing trail. To prevent conflicts and accidents between people going uphill and downhill on the same trail, those going uphill would be encouraged to use the existing trail.

The Forest Service also wants to get users off the road that ascends Buffalo Pass. They would do this by building separate motorized and non-motorized trails.

In addition to the proposed plan, the Forest Service has presented two alternatives.

The first alternative is to do nothing.

“No new trails or facilities would be developed to provide for recreation needs,” the plan states. “Resource impacts and conflicts from illegal trail activities would not be addressed.”

The other alternative is to close and rehabilitate the 14 miles of user-created and non-system trails.

“Implementation would likely begin in spring or summer of 2016,” the plan states.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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