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Snowmobile concerns go before commissioners

Neighbors see progress, but say there is room for improvement

— Nancy Weber sees fewer trespassers these days.

Snowmobilers don’t cut through her and her neighbors’ backyards as often as they did in the past, she said.

But that doesn’t make the sleds that do cruise through and by her property any more tolerable.



“I’m just so tired of it,” she said.

Weber is one of a handful of people who doesn’t like the way Steamboat Lake Outfitters does business.



The North Routt company uses a mile-long private trail running through residential property — including Weber’s — to get customers back and forth from the Routt National Forest.

Steamboat Lake Outfitters, which has had a permit to use the trail since 1999, believes it has bent over backwards to work with its neighbors and follow the rules.

“We feel that we have made great strides in the use of the easement,” Manager Terry Nelson wrote in a recent letter to the three homeowners who repeatedly complain the outfitter breaks the rules.

The number of complaints has fallen since last year, when the county imposed more stringent regulations on Steamboat Lake Outfitters.

Neighbors admit the outfitter is doing a better job since Nelson was hired to manage the business, but they are still dissatisfied.

Their concerns come before the county tonight.

The Routt County Planning Commission could amend, revoke or do nothing to the permit that outlines when and how Steamboat Lake Outfitters can operate snowmobile tours and use the private trail or change nothing.

Company co-owner Chad Bedell has asked the county in previous hearings to impose more realistic conditions.

The county requires guides of Steamboat Lake Outfitters to accompany all guests who use the private trail on their way to the national forest. Returning snowmobilers do not require guides.

Neighbors argue that guides should accompany all riders whenever they are on the private trail.

“It’s not a public trailhead,” Weber said.

The neighbors’ source of frustration is unguided snowmobilers on the private trail.

They are concerned that people who are not guests of Steamboat Lake Outfitters are illegally using the route to reach public land.

Weber would like to see the county close the trail to commercial use for at least a year, and only then allow Steamboat Lake Outfitters to access the route solely for guided snowmobile tours.

“Nobody’s looking to put them out of business,” she said.

Steamboat Lake Outfitters would like to continue using the trail.

“It is our goal to resolve any conflict that exists between the right of use and the ownership of the property,” Nelson wrote. “I look forward to the resolution of the easement usage.”

The hearing begins at 6 p.m. in the commissioners’ hearing room.


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