Letter: It takes a community to manage winter recreation

I observed with sadness last Monday as multiple snowmobiles and timber bikes repeatedly crisscrossed the upper and lower meadows and wetlands of Hahn’s Peak’s south and western flanks in the area recently designated and clearly marked as a “Suggested-Use Non-motorized” area. The previous Friday, the northern meadows in this area had been completely tracked out by snowmobiles.

Up to that point, our new North Routt winter management plan had been working well. It has taken a community effort and many years to make this happen. The North Routt Snow Riders , Friends of the Routt Backcountry, local residents and outfitters have worked long and hard to reach this compromise, truly a community effort.

The old Quarry lot in Columbine has been rededicated with a new trailhead for non-motorized backcountry users. Two miles farther up the road, the new Elkhorn Lot has been established from which snowmobilers may now gain direct access to thousands of acres of terrain and over 100 miles of groomed trails and the new groomed trail FS No. 418, which passes through the “suggested-use non-motorized area.” This has been well-marked by the Forest Service asking them to respect this arrangement.

Trilby Flats is another area prioritized in agreements for suggested non-motorized use. To support this initiative, and discourage snowmobile traffic, the parking lot has purposely been limited in size. All of this is laid out in the 2002 North Routt Suggested Winter-Use Parking Plans (Steamboat Lake SnowClub).

We have been pleased that despite our misgivings about these changes, the plan actually seemed to be working, with only some minor trespasses and conflicts.

This effort to provide a voluntary winter recreation plan will only succeed if we all work together as a community. Our community is made up of a variety of recreational groups. What we do have in common is a love for where we live. This area is big enough for us all to enjoy this beautiful place.

Leslie Lovejoy

Friends of Routt County, Columbine resident

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