SLO coming back before county


— Some North Routt residents are appealing the county's decision not to tighten restrictions on a neighboring outfitter.

The County Planning Commission rejected neighbors' requests earlier this month to place more stringent rules on the way Steamboat Lake Outfitters operates its snowmobile tours.

The company uses a mile-long private trail that runs through residential property to get customers back and forth from the Routt National Forest.

Homeowners whose backyards adjoin the trail are concerned the outfitter does not do enough to keep trespassers off the trail. The Routt County Board of Commissioners will hear homeowners' concerns at 6 p.m. today in the commissioners' hearing room in the Routt County Courthouse Annex.

The Planning Commission had the option to change or revoke the permit that outlines when and how Steamboat Lake Outfitters can operate snowmobile tours and use the private trail.

Planning commissioners decided trespassers were not enough reason to take away the permit, so they changed a few existing conditions and added a few rules they thought would minimize complaints and help the outfitter do business better.

Nearby homeowners do not think the Planning Commission went far enough to prevent the private access to the national forest from becoming a public trailhead. They are asking the board to either revoke the outfitter's permit or toughen restrictions.

The Planning Commission eliminated a 15-minute interval and required guides to lead customers down the trail every hour on the hour, except for regularly scheduled, two-hour snowmobile tour departures at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

There is no limit on the number of departing snowmobiles as long as a guide accompanies every 10 riders. The neighbors would like the board to regulate those numbers, County Planning Director Caryn Fox said.

The county requires guides of Steamboat Lake Outfitters to accompany all customers who use the private trail on their way to the national forest. Returning snowmobilers do not need guides, but neighbors would like to see guides accompany all riders.

The Planning Commission directed guides to wear some sort of uniform to identify them on the trail and help distinguish riders who are on the trail without a guide.

Chad Bedell, a partner in the company, said guides now wear bright orange hunting vests. The outfitter is considering buying uniforms for its guides next year because the snowmobile season is almost over.

Bedell said the hour on the hour rule is working, but he is concerned his business is fighting a losing battle to appease the neighbors.

Doris Newton, who lives near the private trail, said the appeal is not about forcing Steamboat Lake Outfitters to appease its neighbors but forcing the outfitter to abide by the county's rules.

-- To reach Danie Harrelson call 871-4203 or e-mail


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