Nancy Working: Unhappy trails
After attending the 2A Lodging Tax Trails Committee meeting held May 2, I was humbled, alarmed and concerned.
First, humbled since I had no idea that the focus for the lodging tax was destined to build an extensive web of mountain bike trails, labeled as multi-use, on public lands near Steamboat. The document is 250 pages long and a difficult read. This is no excuse, I know, and there were others at this meeting who voiced the same concern.
I assumed that the funds would include trails for tourists and citizens, including maintenance. I had hoped for an extension of the Core Trail, and more quiet, hiking-only trails for general use, trails most tourists would enjoy also.
Like many others, I would like a reconsideration of how this tax money is spent. In the future, I will do more than a cursory read of all initiatives that impact public lands, to determine specific organizations that are funding the initiative and research their purpose.
One of the more contentious agenda items was the Spring Creek downhill-only trail since it creates safety issues as it merges with the general use area. Cyclists careening down at high speed amid families with strollers, walkers and dogs is unacceptable.
The ski area is already permitted to add miles of directional and challenging mountain bike trails. All multi-use trails need signage regarding trail etiquette and enforcement. The Spring Creek Trail is considered by many a public park and should be respected and promoted as such.
As part of the proposed Mad Rabbit NEPA process, public comment was requested, and specific environmental concerns were evaluated by the Forest Service. As a result, a reduced, more environmentally-friendly proposal was introduced.
The revised proposal was met with the suggestion that maybe a “more agreeable” third party could be found to conduct the NEPA process so that the full-scale proposal of up to more than 70 miles could proceed. NEPA is the National Environment Policy Act of 1970 and is an environmental law that promotes the enhancement of the environment for all projects on public lands.
The Trails Committee agreed to continue with funding the USFS NEPA process for the remaining proposed trails with full support of the audience.
There was an audience suggestion that if the original proposed trails weren’t allowed, then the desired trails would be built illegally. This irresponsible, egregious activity must be stopped with consequences.
The proposed Mad Rabbit project fragments three Colorado Roadless Areas of significant biodiversity. These lands help fight the impact of climate change, and provide a legacy to pass on to future generations. Let’s keep these lands intact.
The following are actions you can take to support your public lands:
• Attend the Trail Alliance meeting from 5:30 to 7 p.m. May 21 at Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, 991 Captain Jack Drive in Steamboat Springs.
• Contact your City Council member at https://steamboatsprings.net/96/Council-Members.
• Write a letter to express your concerns to: Hahn’s Peak-Bears Ears Ranger District; Attention: Mad Rabbit Trails Project; 925 Weiss Drive; Steamboat Springs, CO 80487.
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