Dog ban to be enforced on Rim Trail in Snowmass |

Dog ban to be enforced on Rim Trail in Snowmass

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Snowmass Village officials will post a section of the popular Rim Trail as off-limits to dogs this year after discovering it was supposed to be closed to pooches all along.

The town’s staff was unaware of the restriction banning dogs, but that condition was part of an ordinance that was adopted when Snowmass Village acquired the Upper North Mesa property, according to Hunt Walker, public works director.

The 650-acre open space, on the northern edge of the town’s developed area, was acquired in the early 1990s, he said. Clearly, the property was considered crucial for wildlife when it was purchased, according to Walker.

The open space contains part of the Rim Trail, a popular hiking and mountain biking route that, in part, follows the ridge that separates Wildcat Ranch from the Brush Creek Valley.

The town has not enforced the dog ban on what’s known as Rim Trail North. Dogs will continue to be allowed on the south section of the trail between Mountain View and Sinclair Road, Walker said, but not on the segment between Sinclair Road and Horse Ranch Drive.

“Because, I think, current staff and certainly myself, were unaware of that restriction, dogs were tacitly ignored,” he said. “People have probably taken dogs up there, not being aware.”

Rim Trail North is closed to all uses in the winter months protect big game; it opens June 21, but new signs will go up posting it as closed to dogs, Walker said.

The prohibition came to light as part of the planning for a natural and historical research study to be conducted this summer on the newly acquired Droste open space and surrounding open space parcels, including Upper North Mesa. An interim dog ban has been enacted on the Droste property while the study is under way.

John Wilkinson, Snowmass town councilman, said he anticipates the newly enforced rule on Rim Trail North won’t be a popular one.

“There will be a reaction from the community that’s used to being with dogs up there,” he said. “For the sake of the study, I hope people will refrain.”

After this year’s study, including documentation of wildlife habitat and movement on the collection of open space parcels, Wilkinson said he hopes the town can consider a revision to the Rim Trail North rules to allow leashed dogs during the months when the trail is open to use.

Boulder-based Western Ecological Resource Inc. has been chosen to do the $83,915 study, covering roughly 2,500 acres. Aspen and Pitkin County have already agreed to share in the cost, and a majority of the Snowmass Village Town Council has voiced support for chipping in one-third of the price, since two of its open space parcels are involved. The town is waiting until June to see how its real estate transfer tax revenues are faring before it can commit to the funding with certainty, according to Town Manager Russ Forrest.