Forest Service seeks comments on special use permits

Officials consider renewing 11 permits for companies who offer services on public land

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— Local Forest Service officials are seeking public comment as they consider renewing 11 special use permits for companies offering recreational services on public land in Northwest Colorado.

Of the 11, most operate on the Bears Ears/Hahn's Peak Ranger District in West and North Routt County. The activities covered range from big game hunting camps to rock climbing excursions.

Forest Service recreation planner Ed Patalik said the current process should not be confused with a request for new permit applications. His agency is seeking comments on existing permit holders.

Special-use permits allow commercial and non-profit organizations to provide specific services to the public on National Forest lands, Patalik said. The Forest Service monitors the operators during the course of their permits to ensure they are living up to standards and guidelines intended to minimize the impact of their business of natural resources. The Forest Service also checks to make certain the permitted operator is providing a good service to the public.

Most of the permits are for five years. Written public comment will be taken into account in an environmental analysis of the activities. In order to be considered, comments must address specific issues with the individual permits, rather than broader philosophical issues.

The permits up for renewal include:

n Vista Verde Guest Ranch: Provides guided horseback rides in the Coulton Creek area of the National Forest, hiking in the Elk River corridor, Mt. Zirkel Wilderness and Hahn's Peak area, and occasional guided day hunting. Also, Nordic skiing in the Elk River and Hahn's Peak areas.

n The Home Ranch: Guided horseback rides in the Greenville Mine and Rock Creek area, day hikes in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness, and Nordic skiing in the Elk River and Hahn's Peak areas.

n Dutch Creek Guest Ranch: Guided horseback rides and game packing in the Dutch Creek and Larson Creek areas. Guided Nordic skiing in the Hahn's Peak and Sand Mountain areas.

n Del's Triangle Three: Day horseback rides in the Sand Mountain area. Summer pack trips in the Trail Creek and Encampment Meadows areas. Guided and unguided hunting camps in Trail Creek, Encampment Meadows, Coulton Creek and Shield Mountain areas. Occasional drop camps in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness.

n First Creek Ranch: Game packing services in California Park.

n Dusty Trails: Game packing services, drop camps and guided day hunts in the Black Mountain area.

n Rocky Mountain Ventures: Rock climbing in the Seedhouse corridor, Sarvis Creek, Mt. Zirkel and Uranium Mine areas. Winter ice climbing at Fish Creek Falls. Guided skiing and snowshoe tours on Rabbit Ears Pass.

n Wilderness Tracks: Guided hunting, drop camps, and game packing in the Freeman Reservoir area.

n All Seasons Ranch: Guided hunting in First Creek and West Prong areas, and on the Yampa Ranger District around Pagoda Creek. Game packing services. Pack trips in the Flat Tops Wilderness.

n Routt Powder Riders: Local snowmobile club grooms and maintains snowmobile routes on Rabbit Ears and Buffalo Pass.

n Northwest Colorado Snowmobile Club: Snowmobile Club grooms and maintains snowmobile routes in the Black Mountain and California Park areas, and hosts annual snowmobile ride events.

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