Letter: Commercial operations do not belong on Emerald Mountain
On Dec. 31, 1996, Lyman Orton generously placed a conservation easement on his property on Emerald Mountain through Yampa Valley Land Trust/Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust. Lyman’s dream was to preserve this portion of Emerald Mountain for the undisturbed benefit of recreation for the citizens and future generations of the people of Steamboat Springs. This Easement is in perpetuity and was passed on to the City of Steamboat Springs on March 16, 2011, when Lyman sold the city a large portion.
After publication of a recent article on July 8, “Two outfitters approved to offer bike, ski tours on Emerald Mountain,.” several people have contacted us and are concerned as they are aware that the easement clearly states “no commercial … uses shall be allowed on the property.” We also learned that SSWSC, Cycle Effect and Avid 4 Adventures are already using Emerald Mountain trails, which would make five total outfitters.
Since the Orton family no longer owns the property, they have no more influence over it than anyone else in town. Emerald Mountain is a tremendous jewel for our community and we suggest that if you love Emerald Mountain and are concerned that commercial activities will diminish the recreational spirit and want to protect it, then here are some suggestions:
1. Contact the city’s Parks, Open Space and Trails manager and your City Council members and ask them to explain how they are allowing commercial use when it goes against the conservation easement.
2. Ask the city that all tour operators including their participants wear identifiable clothing or perhaps yellow jerseys with the words “official tour.”
3. Tours are limited to five participants including the tour guide. Report any violation or issues to parks and rec. Commercial use is a trial and your feedback over the next year will be very important on its future.
4. Require that SSWSC uphold the rules of the other outfitters at five per group. SSWSC is now allowed up to 10 people in a group.
5. Become familiar with the easement that covers a large part of Emerald Mountain. Page 12, Section J. Retail, Commercial or Industrial Activity, stipulates that no commercial, industrial or retail uses shall be allowed on the property. There are egregious examples such as commercial feedlots, but we believe the intent of this statement was all commercial activities and the recent move by the city is operating within a gray area.
Bernadette Murray, assistant to Lyman Orton for 26 years, and Eliot Orton on behalf of the Orton Family
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