Agreement reached for outfitter

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— Chad Bedell didn't walk away with everything he wanted Thursday night. But it was enough.

Steamboat Lake Outfitters, a North Routt company that Bedell co-owns, asked the county to loosen some of the regulations on its snowmobile and ATV operations.

The Routt County Planning Commission responded with several modifications to the company's request.

"I can see if it works," Bedell told county planning commissioners after hearing their recommendation.

Their recommendation, however, wasn't enough for neighboring landowners who have fought Steamboat Lake Outfitters' operating practices for years.

"SLO does what it wants, how it wants and when it wants," neighbor Tom Corbett said. "SLO rules."

Corbett and other adjacent property owners complain of snowmobilers and ATV riders who recklessly speed along the one-mile private trail that connects the outfitting company with the Routt National Forest and trespass onto their land. Relaxing the conditions and restrictions imposed on Steamboat Lake Outfitters was like rewarding wrongdoing, he said.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners last February ordered the outfitter to provide guides for all snowmobilers that access the trail.

After running into enforcement problems, the company asked that guides only accompany people or groups on their first time out on the trail.

County planning commissioners agreed it was impractical to require guides to and from the national forest.

They decided return trips did not merit a guide. Their recommendation, however, called for guided first-time trips on the private trail for all snowmobilers, whether solo or in a group tour.

No more than 10 snowmobilers were permitted per guide under their recommendation.

County Planning Commissioner Fred Nichols reminded Steamboat Lake Outfitters of its sole responsibility to make sure all snowmobilers are accompanied by a guide and behave appropriately.

"If they don't, it's your job to fix it," he said.

The Routt County Planning Commission also recommended an increased number of signs to reduce the chances of snowmobilers veering off the private trail and onto private property.

County planning commissioners urged the outfitting company and neighbors to find common ground.

"Conditional-use permits do require that you get along with your neighbors," County Planning Commissioner Ken Brenner said.

The recommendation now goes to the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

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