Planners mull temporary trail

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A temporary trail allowing snowmobilers access to more National Forest land from Steamboat Lake State Park is up for approval tonight at the Routt County Planning Commission meeting.

If approved, the trail would be a start to finding solutions to conflicts between Hahn's Peak Village residents and winter recreational users.

The trail would be temporary and would be used from December to March 31, 2004, Routt County Planner Chad Phillips said.

"This (trail) is to alleviate existing problems without increasing the problem by bringing more people up," Phillips said.

North Routt County residents have complained that some winter visitors park on county rights of way, camp at the Columbine quarry where sanitary facilities aren't available, trespass on private property and cause other disturbances.

Many believe a trail providing another link between Steamboat Lake State Park and the national forest could resolve the problems.

Property owners Edna Quealy and Alice Shaffer offered an agreement for snowmobile access through their land, which is between national forest land and Routt County Road 129.

Users of the proposed trail would ride on the state park trail on the west side of C.R. 129 and south of the park headquarters, then would cross the county road and ride on land that is owned by the Bureau of Land Management.

Users would travel for about a mile on part of the 160-acre Quealy property, reaching the national forest boundary and Forest Service Road 410.

No critical winter wildlife areas are affected by the proposed trail, according to the planning report.

The closest residential structure to the proposed trail is a cabin that is about 400 feet away from the trail, according to the report.

Noise from snowmobiles using the trail could be a point of contention at tonight's meeting, as snowmobiles will be heard beyond property lines, but the noise level will depend on individual machines, the amount of snow and wind direction, the report read.

If the trail is approved, snowmobile use would be limited to daylight hours, and machines would be required to stay on the trail at all times. Users would not be allowed on part of the C.R. 129 right of way.

Planning commissioners meet at 6 p.m. today in the Commissioners Hearing Room of the Routt County Courthouse Annex on Sixth Street.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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