Rec plan up for approval

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The Routt County Board of Commissioners will vote today on a recreation plan for the North Routt area.

In August, the Planning Commission adopted the update draft of the recreational uses and public lands chapter of the Upper Elk River Valley Community Plan.

County officials began updating the six-year-old plan in January 2004. An increase in recreational users led to complaints from residents and people using the trails for non-motorized recreation, according to the plan.

Largely, the complaints focused on the increasing use of snowmobiles in the area. Residents complained that snowmobilers created parking and noise problems and sometimes crossed private land to access parts of the Routt National Forest.

The plan does not address specific locations limiting the use of motorized vehicles in the area, an issue that has raised controversy in the past. County officials have decided that the U.S. Forest Service should address that issue.

Originally, the community plan update paralleled the Forest Service's update of its North Routt Winter Recreation Management Plan. However, federal officials postponed this process because of a lack of funding.

Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said Monday that the county has heard complaints about the community plan not addressing specific concerns. She said the county intends for the plan to be a general master guide.

"Any specific planning documents we come out with later will probably be in conjunction with the Forest Service," she said.

The county is instead sticking with issues that affect private property and development, including public parking and protection of residential neighborhoods.

Changes to the plan focus on the balance between recreational uses of the area and their effects on people who live there. The county wants to encourage access to alternate trailhead use, but at the same time minimize the negative effect on neighborhoods and nature. It also encourages the use of guided tour routes to keep recreational users away from neighborhoods.

In the plan update, the county also states that it should work with Steamboat Lake State Park, the Forest Service and recreational groups to develop a master recreational signage and parking plan.

The county encourages the Forest Service to build a public parking lot for recreational users. The plan also states that the county wants to educate recreational users with signs, including trailhead kiosks.

The ratification hearing is set to begin at 3 p.m. today in the Routt County Commissioners Hearing Room, in the courthouse annex, 136 Sixth St.

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