The Steamboat Lake Snow Club met with Routt County commissioners Monday to discuss increasing parking -- and parking enforcement -- for winter recreation in North Routt.
This discussion was a follow-up to a talk last year, in which the group presented a winter parking plan to the commissioners.
Controlling parking is important to solving conflicts -- including access to recreational trails and trespassing on private property -- that winter recreation in the area has created in the past, said John Hawes, club president and owner of Dutch Creek Guest Ranch. Proper parking areas can disperse recreation and cap the number of users.
Hawes began by thanking the county for posting no parking signs behind Hahn's Peak village and at the intersection of Routt County Road 62 and Forest Service Road 42, where recreational parking has created problems in the past.
Since the signs have been posted, Hawes said the issue now becomes one of enforcing the rules. He suggested the Routt County Sheriff's Office make an increased effort to cite parking violations when patrolling in the area.
"If there is no enforcement ... then we may as well take the signs down," Hawes said.
The county commissioners said the club and other residents should talk directly to the Sheriff's Office and make that request.
Hawes also said the club would like to see more nonmotorized parking at the entrance for Hahn's Peak Lake, which is just north of Steamboat Lake. That goal was one the club presented to the county commissioners last winter.
Another concern presented to commissioners was that several new Forest Service signs indicating areas where snowmobiles are permitted could encourage motorized uses in areas that eventually might be designated for nonmotorized uses.
Leslie Lovejoy, executive director of Friends of Routt Backcountry, said a sign north of Columbine on Routt County Road 129 and one at the Hahns Peak Lake trailhead would encourage snowmobiling.
"Snowmobliles on County Road 129 could cause conflicts because the road can be icy and narrow, while machines at Hahn's Peak Lake could be a problem as the area has been designated as a future nonmotorized use site by the Snow Club.
"Why are you advertising that it's open," Lovejoy asked, saying the signs will encourage snowmobiles in places where they haven't been a problem. "I just foresee it's going to bring a lot of problems."
The signs are a result of a statewide effort to mark public lands in a consistent way, said Ed Patalik, recreation planner for the U.S. Forest Service. Patalik said he would talk with others in the Forest Service about concerns that the signs would encourage unwanted use.
The Snow Club will continue to participate in broader talks about winter recreation in North Routt County as those talks take place, Hawes said.