BLM’s Sutey plan caps rec use to non-winter months

Glenwood Spring Post Independent staff report

Mountain biking would be limited to four months of the year under a Bureau of Land Management proposal released Friday to manage the recently acquired Sutey Ranch property north of Carbondale.

The plan, which is now subject to a 30-day formal protest period, proposes to reduce conflicts among recreational user groups by designating seasons of use.

Hiking and equestrian use would be allowed from April 16 to Nov. 30, and mountain biking would be limited to the period from June 1 to Sept. 30 each year.

In addition, the area would be closed to human use altogether from Dec. 1 to April 15 in an effort to protect wintering big game.

The BLM on Friday announced its proposed plan for managing the 557-acre Sutey Ranch property, as well as the 112-acre Haines parcel in the Prince Creek area south of Carbondale that would be incorporated into the existing Prince Creek/Crown Mountain trail system.

Adjacent to the Red Hill Special Recreation Area roughly 4 miles north of Carbondale, the BLM acquired the Sutey property in March 2017 through a land exchange involving the Two Shoes Ranch south of Carbondale.

According to a statement out of the BLM’s Colorado River Valley Field Office, under the proposed plan for the Sutey parcel the BLM would maintain irrigated fields during the warmer months to provide forage for big game.

The proposed plan would allow public access between April 16 and Nov. 30, but not during the winter season to avoid wildlife disturbances.

In addition, the Sutey property could be temporarily used for livestock grazing under specific circumstances, by permit, according to the management proposal.

“The acquisition of these parcels has expanded outdoor recreation and access in the Roaring Fork Valley, and acquisition of the Sutey Ranch specifically ensures critical habitat for wintering big game,” Rob Berger, acting BLM Colorado River Valley field manager, said in the statement.

According to the statement, “The Haines parcel would be included in the adjacent Crown Special Recreation Management Area with an emphasis on mountain bike recreation.”

Friday’s announcement initiates a 30-day public protest period. Protests need to be received by March 18 and may be emailed to or mailed to BLM, 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, CO 81652, Attn: Sutey Ranch Management Plan.