Comments wanted | AspenTimes.com

Comments wanted

The U. S. Forest Service’s Aspen Ranger District is beginning scoping on a proposal for a right-of-way (ROW) exchange on the Government Trail (FDT #1980). The exchange would be in connection to a possible relocation of part of this trail. This section of trail is located in the north central portion of Section 14, T. 10 S., R. 85 W., 6th P.M., and the south central portion of Section 11, T. 10 S., R. 85 W., 6th P.M. All sections of the trail being considered are on private, or City of Aspen, property.

Scoping is an integral part of the environmental analysis process for determining the issues to be addressed and for identifying potential alternatives to a proposal. It is your opportunity to identify issues, concerns, or opportunities you would like the Forest Service to consider in the analysis.

The proposed section of trail that would be vacated would start at the west side of the Forest Service bridge which crosses Maroon Creek below Iselin Park. The present trail turns south (upstream) at the west end of the bridge, then west as it climbs a steep hill, then turns to the north and west until it meets the Tiehack Road.

The proposed new section of trail would turn north from the west side of the Maroon bridge. It would follow the existing Brothers’ Ditch Road to the road

intersection at the pump house, then follow the NW road for a few hundred feet. Approximately 300 feet of new trail would be built to climb the hillside to the west where it connects into the Tiehack Road. (This is also where this trail would connect to the west end of the proposed Maroon Creek pedestrian bridge). The trail would then follow Tiehack Road south to where it meets the existing Government Trail.

There are several reasons for the proposed relocation. The present trail is located in the back yard of several houses being built along Tiehack Road. The current location may cause increasing conflicts as these homes are completed and inhabited. Also, the existing switchback section is quite steep and difficult to maintain. If this section were vacated erosion structures would be installed and the trail would be revegetated. The new alignment would also connect the Government Trail to the new Maroon pedestrian bridge, planned for completion in late 2002.

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The City of Aspen has expressed an interest in assuming the right-of-way and maintenance responsibilities on the proposed section of Government Trail. If this were agreed upon, the Forest Service would abandon the ROWs on the existing and proposed sections of trail. The ROW, and maintenance, for the new section of trail would then be assumed by the City of Aspen. In addition. the Forest Service may turn its ownership of the existing Maroon hiking/biking bridge to the City. An agreement between the two agencies could sell the Forest Service bridge, and its ROW values, to the City for a nominal amount. This alternative would need to be approved by the Aspen City Council. The Forest Service would retain ROW status only on the private land where the trail will border Tiehack Road. This is to insure access to the upper Government Trail for the Forest Service and the public. Under this alternative the Forest Service may also pursue the option to abandon its right-of-way privileges on the City owned section of Government Trail from the Maroon Creek bridge east to Maroon Creek Road.

Please send any comments you may have on this proposal before April 26, 2002. Comments should be sent to: USDA Forest Service, Attn. Dan Matthews, 806 W. Hallam St., Aspen, CO 81611.

Telephone calls can be directed to Dan Matthews at the Aspen Ranger District, 925-3445.

Jim Upchurch

District Ranger

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