Have a favorite trail? Tell the Aspen Ranger District | AspenTimes.com

Have a favorite trail? Tell the Aspen Ranger District

If Aspenites have a favorite long and winding road in the White River National Forest, they better tell the Aspen Ranger District soon or the route could be closed.

The White River contains some 4,500 miles of official roads and trails, but many more miles exist that are “unclassified,” according to a release from the ranger district. The unclassified routes, including user-created hiking and biking trails and old logging roads, are illegal and will be closed as part of the forest’s ongoing travel management plan.

But the U.S. Forest Service’s planning process will allow the public to nominate favorite routes to be incorporated into the official system, the release says. Nominations have to be in by Oct. 31.

District Ranger Jim Upchurch said the Forest Service’s goal is to get a complete inventory of roads and trails on national forest land.

“We need to get those routes that we may not know about or that were created by users on maps,” he said. “We need our motorized and nonmotorized users to come forward and show us where they are at so that we can put them on maps and make informed public decisions as to whether the routes should remain in the forest.”

Upchurch also said “people have to remember that just because an illegal road is included in our inventory, it doesn’t mean it will make the cut” and become part of the official system.

“On the flip side, if it doesn’t get added to our inventory by Oct. 31, it will definitely be considered illegal and will be closed down,” he said.

Upchurch said forest staffers regularly find previously unknown routes.

“We find more and more every day,” he said.

In recognition of a tight deadline, the release says, the Aspen Ranger District will host open houses at its office on Oct. 15-18. The office is at 806 W. Hallam St., and the open houses will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Road and trail users are invited to stop in and share their knowledge of the White River.

District staff will be on hand with maps and other reference material to help identify unclassified roads and trails. Staff will also be available for field trips to get a first-hand look at the area in question.

For more information, call the ranger district at 925-3445.

[Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com]

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