Winter Sports Club cyclists not being allowed on Forest Service trails


— The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club learned the hard way that they were not allowed to mountain bike on U.S. Forest Service trails this summer.

A ticket was issued recently when a coach and two athletes pulled up to the Lower Bear Trail and were getting ready to go ride.

“They didn’t have a permit in place, and they were operating without a permit,” said Kent Foster, the recreation program manager for the Hahn’s Peak-Bears Ears Ranger District.

The U.S. Forest Service considers the coached training rides offered by the Winter Sports Club to local youths as guiding and outfitting operations. Such operations, whether they are done by commercial for-profit businesses or a nonprofit like the Winter Sports Club, need a permit, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Guides, or in the case of the Winter Sports Club, coaches, need to have a copy of the permit with them during trips.

“Our concern is having too many people on certain trails,” Foster said. “We wouldn’t want to send people up to Fish Creek Falls on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Winter Sports Club Executive Director Jim Boyne said he thinks it was unfair that the ticket was issued.

“My understanding was there was a misunderstanding over our permit application,” Boyne said.

Foster said that in recent years, the Winter Sports Club has been using the Forest Service trails for biking and hiking with a temporary permit.

Foster said the Winter Sports Club was late submitting items for their biking permit and it was not approved.

“We need to have the permit in place and approved,” Foster said. “For whatever reason, things were not done.”

Foster said he thought the hiking permit still was being approved.

Boyne said they went to the Forest Service and applied for the same permit they had received in the past. He said Forest Service officials told him the denial had nothing to do with how they applied for the permit.

“We were told that it didn’t matter,” Boyne said.

Not issuing the permit was in line with the Forest Service’s current stance on permits for local trails.

“We really haven’t allowed any new special-use permits on the forest until we get an analysis done of what the needs are,” Foster said.

The needs and capacity analysis study of local trails has been an ongoing project and it does not just affect the Winter Sports Club. Cycling businesses, for instance, have not been able to obtain permits that would allow them to shuttle people up to Rabbit Ears Pass for cycling on the Continental Divide Trail.

“If we opened up all those opportunities, there wouldn’t be any room for the general public to go up there,” Foster said. “For businesses, it’s really frustrating.”

Foster said staffing levels have limited the amount of work they have been able to do on the study, and he did not know when it would be completed. At the same time, the Forest Service is working on a master plan for local trails.

“It all dovetails into this bigger picture,” Foster said.

A public meeting related to that master plan is from 5 to 8 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Forest Service office, 925 Weiss Drive.

Foster said he is was hopeful a solution with the Winter Sports Club could be worked out in time for its fall cycling programs.

“It’s a short-term blip, but we also need people we are partnering with to follow our rules,” Foster said.

Foster said the Winter Sports Club’s mission of developing youths is in line with the Forest Service’s mission of getting kids into the woods and developing them into good stewards of the land.

Boyne thought the permit denial was not consistent with the Forest Service’s mission, but the club was going to make the most of it. They still are allowed on Forest Service trails at Steamboat Ski Area.

Boyne hoped the Forest Service does their work expeditiously.

“It’s not advantageous to the youth of the community at this point,” Boyne said. “We are the ideal organization to be given access to our forest.”

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland


Scott Wedel 2 years, 8 months ago

The crazy part is that it requires no permit for individuals to use trails, but it does require a permit to pay to go with someone knowledgeable. Any sane system would be free regardless or cost a few dollars regardless. It is stupid to say individuals can use, but any hint of a group requires a permit.

Really crazy Forest Service ruling on guiding was a guy with a van and bike racks that charged to bring people to the top of a pass. The passengers were free to bike down the road or find their way down using Forest Service trails. Forest Service ruled that since he knew some passengers were using Forest Service trails then he was a guide needing a permit which they weren't going to issue.


dave mcirvin 2 years, 8 months ago

Come on! In your rant, you forgot to include Benghazi, gay marriage and gun control.

I believe the intent is to spread the impact (hum, I wonder how that trail got it's name) around during the high summer season is a good one. Except for very early in the am, there is more than a little traffic on Lower Bear (after mud season and before labor day) from out of town hikers, locals on bikes.

Kent Foster and the USFS/CSFS folks are great people, well under staffed and under compensated/appreciated.(remember 'sequestration' and the automatic cuts?).


Tim Keenan 2 years, 8 months ago

I love how people starve government organizations of funds and then whine when they can't properly do their job. It's the republican playbook. Starve government, then accuse it of being incompetent so you can hopefully convince more people to starve it further. Brilliant!


Dan Kuechenmeister 2 years, 8 months ago

Hey Tim, Do you really believe our government is starving? Or are they just not very good at budgeting and prioritizing where money should be spent? From end of 2001 to end of 2013 our National Debt has grown from 5.8 trillion to 16.7 trillion. As Woody from Toy Story said "to infinity and beyond".


Tim Keenan 2 years, 8 months ago

Oh, I agree, there's a huge money allocation problem. The gov't does great things with the NHC and NSF and stuff like that, in addition to things like the Forest Service. I say more money for them and less for defense contractors, Exxon and other multinationals that still somehow get subsidies even though they pay hardly any taxes based on their revenue. But isn't it true that the deficit is shrinking under Obama? Bush hit a recession after 9-11, launched two wars and implemented a huge tax cut. No wonder we're paying for it now. I don't want to get into the usual debate, but I don't understand why conservatives are using this sky-is-falling rhetoric about the debt when things are actually trending upward. Unless I'm mistaken.


Dan Kuechenmeister 2 years, 8 months ago

Tim, Regards deficit. End of fiscal year 2000 it was 5.674 trillion End of fiscal year 2008 it was 10.025 trillion End of fiscal year 2013 it was 16.738 trillion. I saw you wanted to put a pox on Bush for the deficit but it looks to me that the current admin is just as guilty. From my perspective it is not a Dem vs. Repub issue. It is a bipartisan issue. As Herbert Stein reportedly said "If something cannot go on forever, it won't". The deficit can not, in my opinion, continue to go up forever. Either our so called "leaders" make some hard decisions to stop the madness or some extraneous event will take care of the "problem". Then the law of un intended consequences will chime in.


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