Controversial proposal includes 13 miles of new single-track in an area generally zoned for non-motorized use
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Forest Service has released a scaled-back version of a controversial plan for a new motorized trail system on Tenderfoot Mountain. Under the proposed plan, about 13 miles of new trails on a project area spanning about 1,800 acres already laced by a spaghetti network of roads and trails, including many renegade user-created trails.
In all, the system would encompass about 27 miles of trails (21 miles of single-track). About eight miles existing routes would be rehabilitated, while some other unsustainable routes would be decommissioned. According to the Forest Service, the net result is a multi-use trail system “that would be managed for non-motorized uses (hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding) as well as for single-track motorcycle use.”
The goal is to change an un-managed, expanding system of mostly steep, eroded user-created trails to a managed, finite system of sustainable, well-designed trails. The proposed action represents numerous compromises that were made to mitigate environmental and social concerns.
Those concerns include stiff opposition from nearby neighborhoods, as well as significant questions on the part of Summit County, which has designated the area as non-motorized. Summit County manager Gary Martinez said in a previous interview that the county’s concerns about motorized use in the area, expressed in a comment letter during the scoping period, still stand. The county’s concerns are outline here.
USFS Dillon District Ranger said that the proposed Tenderfoot trail system is one of those issues where neighbors (the Forest Service and the county) will have to agree to disagree. Cutts said the Forest Service is obligated to consider uses by various groups, and that the agency considers Tenderfoot Mountain to be an appropriate area for this trail system.
The debate cuts deeply to philosophical issues about recreation capacity in Summit County, as well as the rights of dirt bike enthusiasts to have a place to pursue their passion.
“Speaking for myself, not for the Snake River Planning Commission, I feel that, in general, the Forest Service has tried to end-run this,” said John Crone, a resident of the Snake River Basin who serves on the planning commission for the area and has been following
“It seems they’re doing much more than considering it,” Crone said, suggesting that the Forest Service has actively been advocating for motorized use on Tenderfoot.
“It disappoints me the way they approached this … They’re cherry picking their data and they’re not considering other areas.
The Forest Service press release was sent out just before 5 p.m. and no agency officials could be reached for comment. Members of the Summit County Off-Road Riders did not return calls asking for comment. This story will be updated with additional comments.
““The purpose of this comment period is to provide an opportunity for the public to provide early and meaningful participation on a proposed action prior to a decision being made by the responsible official,” Cutts said. “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,” she added.
An open house will be held at the Dillon Ranger Station from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on December 5, 2012. All the documents related to the proposal are online at this Forest Service web page. For more information, contact Peech Keller, phone 970-262-3495, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the Forest Service, the proposed action represents numerous compromises that were made to mitigate environmental and social concerns, including:
- To maintain 4-wheeled motorized access to Tenderfoot Mountain for big game hunters, a route would be designated as open to full sized motorized access for the first mile, then ATV use for 1.4 miles. This route would terminate at Tenderfoot Mountain and would be open to 4-wheeled and 2-wheeled vehicles September through November, and open to motorcycles and all non-motorized uses June 20 through August.
- About seven miles of trail near Tenderfoot Mountain were dropped from the proposal to decrease impacts to Canada lynx habitat.
- To avoid impacts to the Keystone Stables horseback riding operation, approximately 1 mile of trail in the Frey Gulch Creek area would be constructed and maintained for hiking and horseback riding only.
- The total acreage of the project area is now 1,800 acres. Previously, 4,000 acres had been reported, however, that included the Oro Grande Trail and other trails and areas that are no longer considered in the proposal. The total acreage the trail tread would occupy is less than 8 acres.
Written comments must be submitted to: Scott Fitzwilliams, Forest Supervisor, c/o Peech Keller, US Forest Service, P O Box 620, Silverthorne, CO 80498. Hand-delivered comments may be submitted at the Dillon Ranger District between the hours of 8:00-4:30 Mon-Fri, excluding holidays. Electronic comments can be submitted to: email@example.com.