Trailhead vandals plead guilty

Matt Stensland
Routt County Sheriff's Office deputy Aaron Arsenault and Sgt. Kurtis Luster check for fingerprints on one of the three pieces of construction equipment a vandal used to damage the Ridge trailhead. A vandal overturned a skid steer in the parking lot.
Scott Franz

— Two men suspected of causing between $80,000 and $100,000 worth of damage at an Emerald Mountain trailhead in September have pleaded guilty to criminal mischief.

Michael A. Jones was scheduled to go to trial starting Monday. Instead, he accepted a plea deal June 24 and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal mischief. Jones had originally been charged with felony criminal mischief.

Jones will be sentenced Aug. 24.

Also, as part of a plea deal, Charles C. Enger on May 13 pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal mischief and felony criminal mischief. The felony charge carries a deferred sentence, meaning the charge will be dismissed if he successfully completes four years of probation.

Enger was sentenced to 90 days in Routt County Jail, 148 hours of public service and was ordered to write an apology letter.

As part of the agreements, Enger and Jones will pay for the damage they caused.

On Sept. 10, it was discovered the new bathroom facility at the Ridge trailhead work site had been rammed by a bulldozer and a skid steer had been overturned in the middle of the new parking lot.

The trailhead project is a partnership between the city of Steamboat Springs and the Bureau of Land Management and was funded, in part, by lodging tax dollars voters approved to spend on local trail improvements.

After investigating the crime scene, Routt County Sheriff’s Office investigators learned Enger had been arrested on suspicion of DUI that night by the Colorado State Patrol after a rollover crash near mile marker three on Routt County Road 129. Jones was a passenger in the car.

Luster looked at Enger’s shoes and the tires on his pickup and found they matched tracks found at the crime scene.

Enger confessed to investigators that he caused the damage and said Jones showed him how to use the equipment. Jones told investigators he only watched Enger cause the damage.

Access to the Ridge and Rotary trails from the trailhead has been suspended while the vandalism is repaired. Visitors can access these trails from the first gate on Cow Creek Road off C.R. 33 until work is complete.

The work began June 13 and was expected to take three weeks.

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

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