Steamboat Springs Plans for a new trail in North Routt have drawn protests from residents who live nearby.
Last January, Steamboat Lake State Park purchased 8.5 acres of land to provide park users direct access to federal land.
The state park would like to use some of the purchased property to construct a trail that connects with the Routt National Forest.
The proposed connection trail would run adjacent to the historic Hahn's Peak Village.
Residents there say they have no qualms with the hikers and bikers that might want to take advantage of such a trail in the summer.
But potential winter use of the trail has caused apprehension.
The thought of dozens of snowmobiles whizzing by their homes leaves residents of Hahn's Peak Village somewhat unsettled.
Residents gathered Wednesday night with representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, Steamboat Lake State Park and local recreational organizations, as well as fire and public safety officials, to discuss plans to build the connection trail.
Ken Brink, park manager for Steamboat Lake State Park, said the connection trail is part of the park's efforts to expand its trails system.
"It's been a goal of the park for quite a while," he said.
Feelings were mixed on the winter use of the trail, he added.
Residents of Hahn's Peak Village fear that once news of a groomed trail between the state park and national forest spreads, the ranks of snowmobilers who use it will swell.
Supporters of the trail not only dispute the anticipated high volume of snowmobilers, but also argue a connection trail would improve search and rescue teams' ability to respond to emergency calls, said Routt County Emer-gency Manager Chuck Vale.
Emergency service volunteers, mostly from the North Routt Fire Protection District, must trek through private land to get from the state park to national forest areas.
Vale said he would prefer that rescue operations not disturb private landowners.
The connection trail would give them an alternative to cutting through someone's backyard, he said, as well as afford volunteers a quicker response time.
"We want to make sure, with all of the high volume of backcountry recreation, that the fire protection service always has good, clear, legal access to the backcountry," Vale said.
Participants in the discussion agreed to look at other options to the state park's proposed site for the connection trail.
Brink said he would investigate alternative routes for the connection trail.
Terry Nelson would like to see some action taken on getting a link between the state park and Routt National Forest.
Nelson is a former president of the Steamboat Lake Snow Club, an organization that promotes and seeks to provide more opportunities for winter recreation in the area.
"We're just trying to give them access to national forest," he said.
He thought the meeting offered people on both sides of the issue an opportunity to weigh all the facts, as well as consider other points of view.
"Hopefully, those were some of the things that came out of the meeting," Nelson said.
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