Routt County will update the recreation section of its plan for the North Routt area this summer, even though the U.S. Forest Service has put its analysis of the North Routt area on hold.
County commissioners decided last week to move forward with the update, and a draft could be presented to the Routt County Planning Commission in the next few weeks.
"The bottom line, obviously, is to promote health, safety and welfare, but (also) to protect the residential areas and costs to the county," county planner Chad Phillips said.
Routt County planned to collaborate with the Forest Service and Steamboat Lake State Park to update the recreation portion of the Upper Elk River Valley Community Plan this year. The Upper Elk plan was adopted in 1999.
Forest Service officials announced in March that they would not complete the study of winter recreation in North Routt this year because of budget constraints; county commissioners decided last week to move forward with the Upper Elk plan's update.
That update will not consider separation of motorized and non-motorized uses, which has been a major source of controversy in the Forest Service's analysis.
From comments gathered at public meetings throughout the winter that were held by the Forest Service, State Parks and the county, Phillips has written a draft update for the recreation section of the Upper Elk plan.
One addition to the plan, which comes in the background information, is a description of the increase in recreational users, especially snowmobilers.
Problems related to increased use, the draft update states, include increased use and parking on county roads, trespass complaints, conflicts between snowmobilers and vehicles, conflicts between motorized and nonmotorized users, overcrowding and sanitary issues at trailheads, among others.
Also new to the draft update is another goal of the plan: "Maintain the area residents' quality of life while providing recreational opportunities for locals and visitors."
The draft update has several new policies, emphasizing that recreation should minimize negative impacts on residential areas and that a consideration of new or additional uses should include cumulative impacts of the uses.
The update also includes another action item that says the county will work with Colorado State Parks, the Forest Service and recreational users to develop a master recreational sign and parking plan for the study area.
Moving forward without a final plan from the Forest Service should not be a problem, Phillips said.
The next step is to schedule a work session on the update before the Planning Commission, at which point the update could be sent back for more work or an adoption hearing could be scheduled, Phillips said.
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