Emerald Mountain information
For more information about the BLM's Emerald Mountain parcel and the Ridge Trail, go to www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/lsfo.html, or call the BLM Little Snake Field Office at 970-826-5000.
Steamboat Springs Not many office workers use the term "sheer bliss" to describe their commute. But that's exactly how Chris Tamucci regards his ride along the Ridge Trail on Emerald Mountain.
A couple of days of every week, Tamucci rides his bike from his home south of Steamboat along the hill trail that takes him to his job at outdoors equipment and apparel company Big Agnes in downtown Steamboat Springs.
"I have 90 minutes of pure bliss on a Monday morning," Tamucci said this week.
It helps that Tamucci is a competitive mountain biker capable of gobbling up the hilly 5.5 miles of the Ridge Trail and the winding descent down Howelsen Hill to his office on Oak Street.
The Ridge Trail is the centerpiece of the Bureau of Land Management's 4,139-acre Emerald Mountain parcel that stretches south from Steamboat's southern limits toward the rural Whitewood subdivision off Routt County Road 35. The forest parcel received a new level of protection from the federal government this week.
The BLM announced June 2 that the Emerald Mountain parcel would receive additional protection for at least the next 20 years with its withdrawal from "mineral entry."
The order was signed this week by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who is familiar with Steamboat Springs and until recently was a U.S. senator from Colorado.
David Boyd, a pubic affairs specialist for the BLM, said the withdrawal essentially means the parcel is off the table as far as energy and mineral lease applications are concerned. It is standard procedure, he added, to make the term of the withdrawal finite so that it can be revisited under different economic circumstances, for example.
The land already had been under a temporary two-year withdrawal, and the formal measure helps ensure the area will be managed for multiple uses with a focus on recreation and wildlife, BLM Little Snake Field Manager John Husband said.
The BLM formally closed on a complex land exchange in February 2007 that brought the parcel under its management.
The BLM's Little Snake Field Office in Craig completed a plan for management of the property in January. It calls for wildlife viewing, hiking, horseback riding and hunting on the eastern side of Emerald Mountain closest to the base of Mount Werner. On the more remote, eastern side of the elongated mountain, where the Ridge Trail runs, the anticipated activities are destination mountain biking and Nordic skiing.
David Blackstun, associate field manager for the Little Snake Field Office, said the trail still is under construction.
"We have funds in place (from the federal government) for additional work we hope to do this year and complete that trail."
Rocky Mountain Youth Corps will do much of the work, he added.
Blackstun said the trail already is getting more use than most people probably realize. However, even he registered surprise when he heard that Tamucci is commuting to work along the trail a couple of days a week, linking to it from the Cow Creek Road/Routt County Road 41.
"I head out at 6:30 a.m. when the sun is just popping up," Tamucci said. "From my house, it's 14.5 miles door to door. At the beginning, it's a pretty tough climb. It's a stiff 45 minutes. But I see lots of grouse, and it's quiet."