Thursday, February 20, 2003
Steamboat Springs A plan to give summer recreationists a footpath from Steamboat Lake State Park to the Routt National Forest got a preliminary nod from the county Thursday night.
The Routt County Planning Commission recommended a request to construct a nonmotorized use trail that would link the park to the forest.
No public access currently exists for people to travel between state and federal land.
Steamboat Lake State Park purchased more than 8 acres of land adjacent to Hahn's Peak Village last January to give outdoor enthusiasts direct access from the park to the Routt National Forest.
"I look at this as a real opportunity," park director Ken Brink said. "It's an investment for the future, as far as the park not being landlocked."
Private land surrounds the state park, and opportunities for the state to purchase any of that land wanes as more people move to North Routt and buy up property, Brink said.
Property that could realistically link a trail from state park headquarters on Routt County Road 129 with Forest Road 410 to the north is sparse.
The original plan for an access trail raised the eyebrows of Hahn's Peak Village residents, who were concerned about opening up the trail to motorized use in the winter.
The proposed trail lies a short distance from several homes, and many homeowners are adverse to the thought of snowmobiles speeding by their property.
"We want to enjoy the quiet use of our homes," resident Shirley Stocks said.
The Planning Commission recommended developing a trail for summer nonmotorized use only.
Homeowners, the U.S. Forest Service, Steamboat Lake State Park, Bureau of Land Management, the county and recreational groups worked together to reach a compromise on the proposed summer access trail and are considering plausible sites to construct a motorized trail between the state park and federal land.
"We in the village are very appreciative of the efforts the Forest Service, the BLM and (Colorado) State Parks have contributed to this process," said Bryan Heselbach, president of the Hahn's Peak Village Homeowners' Association.
Village residents suggested several conditions to approving the proposed footpath. They asked that planning commissioners consider recommending such measures as appropriate signage and adequate patrol by park rangers to alleviate trail users' impact on neighbors.
"None of us are embracing the additional exposure, but we are aware our area is popular and people want to come," Heselbach said.
State agencies are not required to go through the county planning process, but state parks in Routt County have historically sought county approval.
"Technically, they don't have to be here, but we'd like them to be here," county planner John Eastman said.
The recommendation of the Planning Commission now goes to the Board of County Commissioners for a March 25 hearing.