Summit County: Motorized trails proposed for Tenderfoot

Forest Service to hold Oct. 19 open house on plan

A preliminary map show proposed locations for trails in the Tenderfoot Mountain and Frey Gulch area. Click for a downloadable PDF version.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The White River National Forest wants to build 15 miles of new multi-use trails in the Tenderfoot and Frey Gulch area to accommodate motorized use. The project is being developed in response to a proposal by the Summit County Off-Road Riders. The proposal includes the rehabilitation of 15 miles of existing trails in the same area. Some illegal user-created trails in the same area would be closed and rehabilitated.

According to the Forest Service, the goal is to change an unmanaged, expanding system of mostly steep, eroded, user-created trails to a managed, finite system of sustainable, well-designed trails, and to provide a single-track trail system that is managed specifically for motorcycle use.

The Forest Service says there is a need to provide more motorized recreational opportunities on the White River National Forest, especially after adoption of the forest travel plan, which includes new restrictions on motorized use.

The Dillon Ranger District will host an open house on the proposal next week (Oct. 19, 12 pm. to 6 p.m. at the Forest Service visitor center in Silverthorne). The scoping letter is online here.

The project area includes about 4,000 acres of national forest lands adjacent to the Town of Dillon on the northeast side of Highway 6. The trail system would be accessible from two Forest roads:  Straight Creek and Frey Gulch. The Straight Creek trailhead exists currently and would need no modification.  The Frey Gulch trailhead would be accessed via the Landfill Road.  This proposed trailhead would be constructed a quarter-mile east of the existing Forest Service gate on Frey Gulch Road. It would be approximately 4,000 square feet and would have a capacity of about fifteen vehicles with trailers.

“This designation is consistent with management area prescriptions within the project area,” said Ken Waugh, a recreation ranger on the Dillon district. “It is very important to note that this proposal does not include the Tenderfoot or Oro Grande Trails, which are only open to non-motorized uses.”

If approved, implementation of the project would be managed by the Forest Service. Construction would likely begin in June of 2012. Implementation would be dependent on available funding, primarily through the Colorado OHV Grant Program.  The project could be completed within three to six years.

The idea of continuing to manage this area for motorcycle use was first introduced public scoping for the White River National Forest travel plan. Potential issues identified by public comments include impacts to wildlife and fisheries, law enforcement, wildfire, user conflicts, noise, proximity to homes, and fen wetlands.

The Forest Service says the proposal addresses some of those issues by eliminating motorized use during the elk calving season and by decommissioning and consolidating trails in sensitive areas.

As part of the proposal, habitat for endangered cutthroat trout habitat would be improved by by closing and rehabilitating the Tenderfoot Mountain Road.

Other upfront measures include:

  • A volunteer patrol program would be initiated to assist with education and a law enforcement plan has been prepared.
  • All motorcycles would be required to have Forest Service-approved spark arresters.
  • User conflicts were addressed by separating motorized and non-motorized uses in the area. Eight trails (including the Oro Grande and Tenderfoot Trails) will continue to be for non-motorized uses only.
  • A noise study was conducted to ensure there would be no excessive noise impacts to local residents.
  • Proximity to homes was addressed by maximizing the distance between the trails and residences.
  • The project will be outside of the area influence to the Dillon Reservoir fen wetland.

As a part of this proposal, the Tenderfoot Mountain Road would be closed to all uses to protect habitat for the Greenback cutthroat trout in Frey Gulch Creek.  A special order signed by the Forest Supervisor in 2010 closes areas within 100 feet of streams to camping. This closes the campsites on the Tenderfoot Mountain Road as most are adjacent to Frey Gulch Creek.

To make a fully informed decision, the Forest Supervisor would like to know if there are any thoughts, issues or concerns related to other potential effects caused by this proposal and how they may be addressed. Public feedback on the proposed action is an integral part of the environmental analysis process. Comments need to be received by November 20, 2011 so that the planning efforts can proceed in a timely manner.

Documents and maps for the project will be posted online at the White River National Forest website under Land and Resource Management, Projects and Plans.

Written comments can be addressed to: Scott Fitzwilliams, c/o Ken Waugh, Dillon Ranger District, PO Box 620 Silverthorne, CO 80498; FAX: (970) 468-7735; or Email: wrnf_scoping_comments@fs.fed.us. Persons commenting should include: 1) name, address, telephone number, and organization represented, if any; 2) title of this project (Tenderfoot Mountain Motorized Trail System); and 3) specific facts and supporting reasons for the Forest Supervisor to consider. Names and contact information submitted with your comments will become part of the public record and may be released under the Freedom of Information Act.

To request additional information regarding this proposal, please contact Ken Waugh at (970) 262-3446.

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3 Responses

  1. Thank you for writing an unbiased article on this incredible recreation resource. As a volunteer and avid recreational OHV rider on the Tenderfoot Mountain and Golden Horseshoe areas within the White River National, I can vouch for the well thought out process that is in place. This cooperative effort will conserve the outstanding recreational resources for both motorized and non-motorized users, while reducing conflicts and providing a boost to the local economy. I will be up to ride the trails in the spring, and back in the summer to put in some of the hard work that is needed to maintain this excellent OHV riding opportunity.

    • Mark, I certainly have questions about the wisdom of building 15 miles of new trail when so many existing trails are in terrible condition, but I have an open mind and will eagerly watch the NEPA process unfold.

  2. [...] — Summit County officials are scrambling to finalize comments on a Forest Service proposal to build 13 miles of new dirt bike trails on Tenderfoot Mountain after their request to extend the [...]

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