Forest Service starts review of trail between Redstone and McClure Pass summit
IF YOU GO:
What: Open house on the Redstone to McClure Pass trail
When: Jan 28 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Where: Third Street Center, Carbondale
The White River National Forest announced Tuesday it will conduct an environmental assessment on Pitkin County’s proposal to build a trail from Redstone to the McClure Pass summit.
The U.S. Forest Service will undertake an environmental assessment rather than the more intensive environmental impact statement. The EA will determine if there are significant issues that warrant an EIS.
“The analysis will disclose the anticipated social and environmental effects of issuing a Special Use Authorization to Pitkin County to construct and maintain the trail on National Forest System lands,” the Forest Service said in a statement.
The agency typically only starts with an EIS when there are anticipated major impacts on national forest lands, such as ski area expansions.
The National Environmental Policy Act requires public comment in both types of review.
The Forest Service will launch its review of the non-motorized trail by hosting a public meeting Jan. 28, where members of the public can question Forest Service and Pitkin County representatives about the project. The open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Third Street Center, 520 S. Third St., in Carbondale.
“The meeting is aimed at providing and soliciting comments on Pitkin County’s proposal to construct and maintain a natural surface, non-motorized, multi-use recreation trail from Redstone to the summit of McClure Pass,” the Forest Service said in a statement.
The Pitkin County Open Space and Trails program is the entity proposing the trail. The proposal received the blessing of the Pitkin County commissioners in December 2018 after a lengthy review process.
The 7-mile trail requires Forest Service approval because 5 miles is on National Forest System land. Sections of the alignment are along the historic Rock Creek Wagon Road and another part is on the Old McClure Pass road. The section that isn’t on national forest is located within the Highway 133 right-of-way.
“This project is aimed at improving trail connectivity between Redstone, nearby subdivisions and McClure Pass, and improving access for recreational use along Highway 133,” the Forest Service said.
Robust public participation is likely, if Pitkin County’s review process is a guide. While the trail attracted extensive support, there also is significant opposition among some residents of Redstone and the Crystal River Valley.
“Much public engagement has already occurred on this project as Pitkin County developed this proposal,” Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Kevin Warner said in a statement. “I look forward to more public engagement as this project is analyzed in greater detail.”
The Forest Service will open a 30-day public comment period at a date to be determined sometime around the open house. There will be a second opportunity to comment after the release of the draft environmental assessment.
Project information can be found on the WRNF website at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=56913.
For additional information concerning the project, please contact Shelly Grail Braudis, project leader at 970-404-3155 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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