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Golden horseshoe trail and restoration planning starts

Input wanted on overall plan for Summit County recreation area; Swan River restoration a big part of the effort

The Forest Service wants to add some new trails and decommission others in the popular Golden Horseshoe area near Breckenridge.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Forest Service is seeking public comment on an ambitious plan to remodel the Golden Horseshoe with sustainable trails and a particular focus on ecosystem restoration of the Swan River watershed, between Breckenridge and Frisco.

The environmental study now under way will evaluate and disclose potential effects  proposed reconstruction and designation of several trails, in addition to closure and rehabilitation of several roads in the area.

Generally, the projects consist of the following:

  • 3.7 miles of non-motorized trail construction
  • 5.0 miles of motorized trail construction
  • 5.1 miles of road decommissioning

Maps, documents and commenting information is online at this WRNF web page.

“The Swan River watershed was selected as one of four priority watersheds in the White River National Forest,” said Corey Lewellen, fisheries biologist for the USFS Dillon Ranger District, explaining that the district is trying to balance resource protection in the area with the demand for recreation. The overarching goal is to achieve significant landscape benefits to the entire watershed.

“As a result of this new effort, the public should expect to see increased notifications and public comment opportunities in regard to the different management activities that would occur in the Swan River watershed,” Lewellen said.

The French Gulch watershed is also included in this new watershed planning effort due to the overlapping recreation activities between the two watersheds.

During the past several years, the Dillon Ranger District has worked with the Town of Breckenridge and Summit County Government on management of the Golden Horseshoe travel system. Several roads and trails were adopted in the White River National Forest Travel Management Plan.

Several other needed trails have been identified through a joint planning process and are part of a master plan for the area which was approved by the Board of County Commissioners, the Breckenridge Town Council, and the Summit County and Breckenridge Open Space Advisory Councils.

The project involves new construction or reconstruction of existing routes, requiring a new environmental study. Some trails are planned for both motorized and non-motorized uses (hiking and riding of horses, mountain bikes, and motorcycles), while others will be open only to non-motorized uses.

Sections of abandoned trail would be rehabilitated by scarifying the soil, installing drainage structures, and piling debris (rocks, logs, etc.).  All new trails would be built to be sustainable using modern, accepted techniques. Some of the trails cross property managed by Summit County and the Town of Breckenridge, but the Forest Service planning process only covers sections on national forest lands.

Additionally, the travel management plan also envisioned closing some of the existing roads in the Golden Horseshoe. Although a decision was made to close the routes, the methods were not disclosed, therefore, an additional planning process is underway to evaluate the specific actions that may be taken.

The roads are proposed to be decommissioned by blocking the entrances, filling ditches, outsloping, installing water bars, scarifying the soil, and revegtation. The intent is to return the landscape back to a natural condition.

For information on these projects, contact Cindy Ebbert, Project Leader, at (970) 262-3458 or cebbert@fs.fed.us

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