Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Snowmobilers in North Routt County likely will have what many call "critical access" between Steamboat Lake State Park and Routt National Forest land this winter.
At a meeting Wednesday between representatives from Colorado State Parks, Routt County commissioners and planning representatives, all voiced support for using a snowmobile trail that would cross private property.
The owner of the property, Edna Quealy, said she would sign a temporary access agreement with Colorado State Lands and Colorado State Parks that would allow snowmobilers to access national forest. She did not request compensation for the agreement.
Quealy's offer was received Monday, so it was a surprise to some residents and forest officials who packed the room to listen to the work session.
Although the agreement would only be for Dec. 1 through March 31, Quealy has indicated a willingness to negotiate a sale that would provide a long-term access trail.
Ken Brink, manager of Steamboat Lake State Park, said a northeast access into forest land is crucial to motorized and nonmotorized users who frequent the park.
The state park offers ample parking, so a new connection to forest land could help solve parking problems and other conflicts related to growing winter recreational use.
Lyle Laverty, director of Colorado State Parks, presented the temporary trail option to Routt County commissioners and said he thought it was an incredible opportunity and allows the park to be a good neighbor to Hahn's Peak residents.
"This is a very positive and exciting development that came in front of us this morning," Laverty said.
County commissioners voiced their support of the proposal and encouraged the planning department to expedite the process so the trail could be in place for winter users when snowmobiling in the area begins.
The officials also discussed ways of obtaining funding to eventually purchase permanent access if that opportunity presents itself.
If the temporary trail had not been a possibility, the decision would have been tough, Laverty said.
One option state park officials could have considered was allowing snowmobiles on a new trail next to Hahn's Peak Village, on 8.5 acres the state bought in 2002. That trail has been designated for nonmotorized summer uses. Neighboring residents and county commissioners have consistently said they do not support that option.
After Wednesday's meeting, Hahn's Peak Homeowners Association President Bryan Heselbach said he was thrilled with the support for the Quealy access and that he was hopeful that state and county officials and residents could continue to work together on a solution.
The homeowners association, he said, would continue to participate in discussions to be sure they choose the best trail that has the least negative impact on residents.
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