Routt County trails project could set bad precedent, wildlife advocates warn

Forest Service, supporters defend plan as striking right balance in area where recreation demands are growing

Judith Kohler
The Denver Post
Several trailheads on Rabbit Ears Pass, including this one at Fox Curve, are slated for improvements to better accommodate summer recreation in the updated Mad Rabbit trails proposal from the U.S. Forest Service. Fox Curve, seen here on Oct. 24, 2022, is generally used during the winter, but would see increased trails, and some rehabilitation of unsanctioned trails as part of the Mad Rabbit project.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

A plan long in the works to respond to demands for more mountain-biking trails in the Steamboat Springs area is being criticized as not taking enough steps to protect one of Colorado’s largest elk herds.

The Routt National Forest released a draft environmental assessment and proposal for the Mad Rabbit trails project in October and will review the comments and feedback before issuing a  preliminary decision, possibly by April or May. People will then be able to file comments and objections before a final decision is released.

Forest Service officials said the proposal, in development for about five years, strikes a balance between providing new trails on forest land and protecting wildlife and other natural resources.

“We removed trails, moved trails out of undisturbed areas and really focused the trails into existing impacted areas,” said Brendan Kelly, the project’s manager and the Routt National Forest’s recreation specialist.


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