Alan Keeffe: Humble coverage wrong
August 4, 2010
Your recent coverage of the public access trails in Agate Creek has been unprofessional and misleading. First, your articles state that the Trousils do not allow public access on the Agate Creek Trail. Your articles go on to mention lawsuits, no trespassing signs and fences, as if the Trousils had closed public access across Humble Ranch. Neither statement is true.
For those who care to research the facts themselves, the trail easement is recorded in the county at reception number 510343. The Agate Creek trail is described as segments 1 and 5. What you failed to say in the articles is that the trail up Agate Creek remains open for to the public for hiking, except when closed by the Division of Wildlife for wildlife protection and that the other trails described in the easement have never been open for public access.
Second, you imply that the $950,000 paid to the Trousils was for a public trail system across Humble Ranch. That is not true. Those funds were paid to acquire the development rights on 1,131 acres owned by the Trousils. In exchange for the funds, the Trousils granted a conservation easement to Yampa Valley Land Trust. The conservation easement does not require opening the trails that have never been available for public use. For those who care to review it, the easement is recorded at reception number 510344. The citizens of Routt County have received the full benefit of that money because the land remains protected under the conservation easement.
Third, you imply that the Trousils breached their agreement for the LPS subdivision by not opening up trails to the public. That is not true. The county did not impose a public access easement across the ranch as part of the conditions for the LPS, which they could easily have done if that had been the understanding. For those who care to review it, the LPS development agreement is recorded at reception number 512334.
Your articles intentionally mislead your readers into concluding that the Trousils failed to honor some undefined right of unlimited public biking access. The documents for the Grant Ranch transaction were orchestrated by the best land use professionals we have in the county from the Yampa Valley Land Trust, the Routt County Board of Commissioners, the city of Steamboat Springs and the Trust for Public Lands. If unlimited public biking access across Humble Ranch was such an important part of the transaction, then why wasn't that contained in one of the documents, and why did the court rule in the Trousils' favor? The answer is quite simple — because it was not. The access easement on the Agate Creek trail appears to have been the only requirement and it remains available for use by the public.