County to consider Steamboat Lake State Park trail

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— A plan to give summer recreationists a footpath from Steamboat Lake State Park to the Routt National Forest goes before the county tonight.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners will consider a request to develop the proposed trail for summer non-motorized use only.

No public access currently exists for people to travel between state and federal land.

Steamboat Lake State Park purchased more than eight 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.

Park Director Ken Brink told the County Planning Commission last month that acquiring the eight-acre parcel was essential to the park's future vitality.

Private land surrounds the park, and opportunities for the state to purchase any of that land wanes as more people move to North Routt and buy property, he said.

"It's an investment for the future, as far as the park not being landlocked," Brink said.

During a Feb. 20 hearing, the County Planning Commission recommended the board endorse the park's request to construct a non-motorized use trail that would link its headquarters to the forest.

Several residents of Hahn's Peak Village turned out at that meeting to voice concerns about the state park opening the trail to motorized use in the winter.

The proposed trail is a short distance from several homes, and many homeowners want assurance snowmobiles will not use the route to get to the forest.

The County Planning Commission did not recommend expanding the use of the trail before May or after September.

Village residents suggested the county require the state park to post signs along the trail and regularly patrol the area to keep visitors on the path.

Property that could realistically link a trail from state park headquarters on County Road 129 with Forest Road 410 to the north is sparse, but homeowners, the U.S. Forest Service, Steamboat Lake State Park, Bureau of Land Management, the county and recreational groups are working together to identify a second site to construct a motorized winter trail between the park and federal land.

State agencies are not required to go through the county planning process. Steamboat Lake State Park does not have to ask the board for permission to build the summer access trail tonight, but state parks in Routt County have historically sought county approval.

The hearing begins at 6 p.m. in the county commissioners hearing room in the Routt County Courthouse annex.


-- To reach Danie Harrelson call 871-4203 or e-mail dharrelson@steamboatpilot.com

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