Routt County cycling group avoids Humble Ranch debate
Routt County Riders not taking side on Humble Ranch issue
July 26, 2010
Read previous stories about the city's litigation with Humble Ventures, and a letter to the Steamboat Pilot & Today from Ed and Cheri Trousil.
From June 18
From April 15
April 4 letter from the Trousils
March 31 letter from Gloria James
From March 24
Steamboat Springs — Routt County Riders is not taking a position on the city's ongoing litigation with Humble Ranch regarding public trail access on land south of Emerald Mountain.
"This is kind of a landowners' dispute from what I understand, and right now, Routt County Riders does not see that it should be involved in the legal battle," said Robin Craigen, president of the cycling group. "We're advocating that bicyclists and Routt County riders, in all cases, should respect private property rights and private property boundaries."
The city has a pending petition filed with the Colorado Supreme Court, asking it to review a ruling in favor of Humble Ranch made in Routt County District Court and upheld by the Colorado Court of Appeals. The litigation began in 2007 and has cost the city more than $100,000.
The closed trails would provide access to the south side of Emerald Mountain and the Cow Creek area, via the Humble Ranch property off Routt County Road 14.
Coordinating the Humble Ranch purchase brought together numerous public entities and private landowners more than a decade ago. Many people involved in the purchase say opening those trails to the public was a key component of correlated efforts by the Yampa River System Legacy Project and the Emerald Mountain Partnership.
Landowner Ed Trousil has said the trails' closure is to protect wildlife habitat and prevent impacts on the Humble Ranch Education & Therapy Center, which provides therapy in the outdoors for people with special needs.
The trails in question are along the Division of Wildlife's public Agate Creek trail, accessed through an easement via the private Elk Lane. There is public parking at a DOW lot off C.R. 14 for the Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area.
The Agate Creek trail ends at a gate into the Emerald Mountain State Wildlife Area, which adjoins Bureau of Land Management lands.
The state Division of Wildlife closes the Emerald Mountain State Wildlife Area from Dec. 1 to June 30, because of elk concerns. The Agate Creek trail also is closed during those dates, but that issue remains part of the city's ongoing litigation.
Steve Baumgartner, wildlife technician with the state Division of Wildlife, said cycling is not allowed at any time on the Agate Creek trail or on Elk Lane.
"The no bicycles (regulation) from the parking lot at Chuck Lewis … from that point all the way up into our property, we don't allow any bicycles on the trail," Baumgartner said. "That's a Division of Wildlife regulation."
Baumgartner said bicycle use is a "mechanical access" prohibited to minimize disturbance on wildlife.
"One of the things about where we live is that we want to respect the land that we live in," Craigen said. "When the DOW has those kind of concerns, then certainly, we encourage our membership to respect those concerns."
Routt County Riders is taking advantage of public, cycle-friendly lands in the area, though, by building two new trails on a nearby Bureau of Land Management parcel. Craigen said one of those trails will be called the Beall Trail, after Ben Beall, a former Routt County commissioner and former chairman of the Emerald Mountain Partnership.
Beall was very involved with efforts leading to the purchase of Humble Ranch.
Routt County Riders is building a second trail in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs. Craigen said the new trails will create a loop down to the Cow Creek area, through BLM land, and back up to the top of Emerald Mountain.
"These are going to be two epic, awesome rides right on our doorstep," Craigen said. "So that's where our focus is right now."
— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org