Johnny Walker: Spring Creek is a treasure worth saving | SteamboatToday.com

Johnny Walker: Spring Creek is a treasure worth saving

My name is Johnny Walker. A small group of us conceived the Spring Creek Mountain Park in 1988, and I co-authored the park’s management plan in 1992, which was promptly accepted by City Council.

We envisioned an 800-acre wilderness experience adjacent to our growing and, quite wonderful, little town. The natural environment would be respected and provide a place for children and adults to experience and learn from this gift to our community from the Forest Service in 1910.

I appreciate Nancy Working's letter last week expressing concerns regarding the consequences of the mountain bike trail development on Buffalo Pass. Over the last few years, I have openly objected to the additional impacts of this "downhill traffic."

And now, with the soon-to-be-opened "downhill” mountain bike system, we all know it will have negative impacts on the Spring Creek Trail. There seems to be no stopping it.

Over the last year, I have written a series of letters to the Forest Service, City Council, Parks and Recreation and Routt County commissioners asking them to reveal what will happen to the one-mile section of the trail that overlaps the county road and gets the most use from pedestrians between bridge #1 and #2 — just beyond the ponds.

The general public and landowners have been led to believe that directional "downhill" diversion side trails are underway and will resolve this conflict of use. Negotiations for purchase of easements have never begun and possible road improvements have not been discussed with the county.

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When the “flood gates" open this summer, Spring Creek will have few, if any, diversion trails and none in the well-used pedestrian  areas. Hikers, children, preschools, horses, dogs, casual bicyclists and the occasional motor vehicle will become fair game for the new high speed "downhill" traffic.

I also ask who will be liable for the next accident? The original management goals of Spring Creek will have been ignored, and the park will have a different meaning.

Uphill van shuttles assisting downhill tour groups and private “downhill riding” parties will soon become the norm — all of it publicly mapped on trails leading all the way to the bars and restaurants on Yampa Street. And it was all funded by money and "user” numbers.

Nancy Working reminds us (but maybe not heard by the bureaucracies involved) that quiet and peaceful walking remains at 63 percent of Colorado's outdoor recreation.  So good luck to all of us who share this sense of loss and get involved to save this treasure that we have.

Johnny Walker

Steamboat Springs