Hunter Creek management plans take some very different roads
Members of a citizens’ task force have four different ideas onhow to manage the Hunter Creek Valley.The scenarios offer different ways to regulate road and trailmaintenance, vehicular access and parking, land management andeducation of the public about rules and policy.The goal of the Hunter Creek Task force is to develop a finalmaster plan for the valley by May, so it can be included in therevised White River National Forest management plan now beingwritten. The management scenarios were presented to the Pitkin County commissionerslast week. The four plans unanimously call for erosion controland control of noxious weeds, but beyond that they diverge onseveral matters. Bill Mohrman, owner of land in the Hunter Creek Valley, calledfor a major rebuild of all U.S. Forest Service roads in the area,with grading and ditching. This provoked some negative reactionsfrom county commissioners.”Why do we want to put a lot of money into maintaining roads ifthere’s nobody up there using them?” asked Commissioner Mick Ireland.The area is presently closed to vehicular traffic except for landowners,people who maintain communications equipment on Red Mountain,and hunters during hunting season.Commissioner Leslie Lamont noted that the county doesn’t havea lot of money to spend on fixing roads, but some erosion controlwould be appropriate.Task force member Orrin Moon suggested using volunteer labor anddonated equipment to make improvements, but Lamont said that mightnot be appropriate.”I’m personally not interested in, even if we had all the moneyin the world, in buffing out all the roads up there,” she said.She agreed, however, with the task force’s suggestion that a parkinglot be built on the upper road, just inside the Forest Serviceboundary.Aspen chiropractor Tom Lankering suggested converting all theroads to trails, except the roads to the MacNamara Hut and theRed Mountain repeater site, because vehicular use appears to becreating erosion gullies.”I think hunting leads to abuse of some of the roads,” Lankeringsaid. But hunters don’t commit all the abuse, he added. Othersdriving for sport during hunting season do as much damage.The real problem is that fall, with its rain and snow, is thetouchiest time for the roads. Friends of Hunter Creek member CharlieHopton agreed.”I’ve seen a lot of people [driving] up there that are not hunters,”he said.Commissioners and task force members agreed there is also a problemwith bicyclists enlarging trails and creating trails where noneexist.Kate Mink, presenting her maintenance scenario, called for closingdown unauthorized single-track trails in the area of Four Corners,near Van Horn Park. She also suggested publishing, with donatedfunds, a bicycle trail map, not only for a guide, but to promoteconscientious trail use.Ireland, though he insisted that motor vehicles do the most damage,conceded that bicyclists need to be held responsible for traildamage as well.”I want to see the vehicular access limited,” he said. “But Iwant to go to the biking community, too, and tell them they haveresponsibilities.” He said no new trails should be permitted.The county commissioners agreed to spend some time with the scenariosand create one that employs the best aspects of the four. Theywill then seek the comments of the task force.The Aspen Institute has volunteered to help generate additionalideas.
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I try to remember to give thanks every day I spend outside, whether it be floating the Colorado or Roaring Fork, fishing an epic dry fly hatch on the Fryingpan, or teasing up tiny brook trout on a remote lake or stream. We’re spoiled rotten here, so it’s easy to be thankful.