Crystal Trail group formed to watch Pitkin County movement | AspenTimes.com

Crystal Trail group formed to watch Pitkin County movement

An advocacy group proposing appropriate and sustainable trail alignment in the Crystal River Valley was formally announced last week at the Crystal Caucus meeting in Redstone. The Crystal Trail Conservancy (crystaltrailconservancy.org) provides a coherent voice for those sensing a need to get out ahead of a Pitkin County trail routed along the Crystal Valley's east side in diverse wildlife habitat.

Pitkin County's past pattern of land acquisitions, beginning about 2001, and their management plans for those parcels along public and forest service grades have generated great concerns from residents and many wildlife managers. Petitions from residents in 2004 regarding the Trail Feasibility Study and another in 2008 against allowing unsupervised general public travel along corridor A in the Filoha Meadows Nature Preserve forced changes in management plans.

It was obvious that the corridor A would be the future bike trail incursion across the Filoha Nature Preserve. Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners George Newman was asked at the caucus meeting if the management plan for the Filoha preserve would now be rewritten to accommodate the future trail. Instead of giving a direct answer he said he was tired of reading "articles in the paper" about Open Space and Trails' plans for the trail.

Division of Wildlife letters to Pitkin County Open Space and Trails from wildlife managers in 2003 and 2008 also expresses their concerns over plans for future Filoha trail alignment.

Pat Tucker, area wildlife manager, wrote Dec. 19, 2003: "For nearly 15 years the division has consistently advocated protecting this important wildlife area, as evidenced by various correspondence with interest groups and Pitkin County. The Division of Wildlife's Feb. 25, 2002, letter in support of thee GOCO proposal was based entirely on protecting this critical area for wildlife; this bighorn sheep herd is also a special species of concern for the USFS and lastly we believe a viable alternative exists to accomplish the trail connection without impacting wildlife. This would allow hikers and bikers to enjoy the scenic qualities and wildlife diversity of this area all year round with minimal disturbance to wildlife using the area."

Newman may discount the "premature" concerns of the many, but we have all known that Open Space and Trails was coming to impose their will upon their very own constituency. We have known they were coming for the rural character of our valley since they publicly announced it in the Valley Journal, Aug. 29, 2002. Newman and his predecessor, Dorothea Farris, have been providing the cover and imposition ever since.

William Hanks, Crystal Trail Conservancy

Trustees: Terry Knapp, Phil Youngman, Tom McBrayer, and Bill Hanks