Routt County Riders Trail Ambassadors get rolling with new season

John Camponeschi
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Jon Feiges speaks about the Steamboat Ski Area bike park amidst items to be handed out to attendees and ambassadors.
John Camponeschi/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Trail ambassadors for the Routt County Riders held their annual cycling season orientation Monday night at Howelsen Hill.

Ambassadors and their leadership were joined by representatives, advocates and guests from all areas of the Yampa River Valley.

As they gathered, the energy level in Olympian Hall was high. The annual event serves as an unofficial kickoff to the summer season for multiple local trail systems.

Laraine Martin, executive director of Routt County Riders, served as the master of ceremonies and welcomed a crowd that included officials from multiple organizations affiliated with trail use in the area.

The Routt County Riders Trail Ambassadors program consists of local residents who inform, educate, and assist trail users in Routt County. Supported by the City of Steamboat Springs through an allocation from the voter-approved 2A lodging fund, and sporting colorful jerseys, ambassadors work together as well as individually to promote ethical trail use and to answer questions for people who are recreating in the area.

Martin stated that it is a broad network that supports Routt County Riders, as well as the Ambassador Program, and thanked the program’s sponsors, which include Honey Stinger, Bar-U-Eat, Handup gloves and several others.

Martin spoke of the 50 individuals who have volunteered to serve as ambassadors this year.

“They are outgoing, positive, and have a welcoming attitude that we want to see in and around the trail systems,” she said.

Ambassadors, including some who have served since the program’s inception, “are out there as volunteers to serve as an end-point user interface.”

Individuals from multiple organizations were present to provide updates to trail users. Representatives of the City of Steamboat Springs, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, Steamboat Resort and other groups were all on hand to provide updates on trail conditions and promote an understanding about how public lands around Steamboat Springs are managed and maintained.

Jon Feiges, representing Steamboat Resort, updated attendees on the much anticipated reopening of the Steamboat Ski Area bike park to applause and cheers. The park has had limited access or closures in place since 2018, owing to multiple events ranging from the pandemic to new construction on the mountain.

Feiges encouraged users to be sure they are following the rules and that they don’t use areas of the mountain that are marked as off-limits.

Many of the presentations from public land representatives featured a similar theme. The above average snowfall during the winter months is going to present trail users and managers with unique challenges as the weather warms and opens a more limited window to conduct much-needed trail maintenance.

Gary Keeling, representing the Little Snake District of the Bureau of Land Management, spoke about trail conditions and the impact that the above-average snowfall is having on BLM-managed trails.

“It is going to take a while for things to get thawed out,” Keeling said. “The Ridge Trail is getting really close but likely still has a couple of weeks. The foliage from all the moisture is going to present a lot of challenges, in addition to the deadfall that occurred during the winter months.”

Martin issued a reminder that all community members are trail stewards and encouraged attendees to report issues with trails that they encounter while enjoying the warmer weather.

Bureau of Land Management park ranger Gary Keeling presents to audience members at the Routt County Riders Ambassador orientation.
John Camponeschi/Steamboat Pilot & Today

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