Aspen fitness instructor pleads guilty, receives fine |

Aspen fitness instructor pleads guilty, receives fine

Sundog Athletics owner Erik Skarvan takes a ride down Ajax Trailhead this summer. Skarvan pleaded guilty Tuesday to operating on Pitkin County open space in July without a permit and was fined $100.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

A local outdoor guide and instructor pleaded guilty Tuesday to operating on Pitkin County open space earlier this year without a permit and was fined $100, according to court documents.

“It didn’t go so well for me, unfortunately,” said Erik Skarvan, owner of Sundog Athletics. “No justice is served.”

Skarvan also was ordered to pay court costs and other fines associated with the ticket, bringing his total fine to $164.50, according to court documents. Skarvan said he didn’t have the money to pay the fine immediately and will have to pay it off gradually.

“I’m barely getting by right now,” he said.

Skarvan was ticketed in July by a Pitkin County Open Space and Trails ranger while allegedly guiding a bicyclist on the Rio Grande Trail.

He said Tuesday he was ready to present a case in Pitkin County Court outlining his 34 years as a productive member of the Aspen community, but that didn’t happen.

“I was given no credit for being a good guy,” he said.

Obtaining a permit from open space officials is relatively new, Skarvan said, and not something he’s had to have for most of the past 20 years.

However, John Armstrong, the ranger who ticketed Skarvan, said businesses like his that make money off public assets should pay something back. They also should have insurance in case of accidents, Armstrong said.

“They have the potential to make thousands of dollars on open space (areas),” he said.

Skarvan said he initially thought he’d have to spend upward of $4,000 on permits for each of the sports he instructs. However, after two appearances in front of the Open Space and Trails board of trustees, he was allowed to have just one permit, he said.

Gary Tennenbaum, open space program director, said Tuesday that once the board realized everything Skarvan wanted to be permitted to do, members allowed just the one permit.

That permit costs $150 initially and $50 to renew each year, Tennenbaum and Armstrong said.

“It’s very reasonable,” Armstrong said.

Skarvan said he spent thousands of dollars this summer becoming compliant with open space rules but remains extremely dissatisfied with the outcome and plans to keep fighting for better open space policies.

“Small businesses are just getting by,” he said. “And Pitkin County is now making it harder.”

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