Pitkin County endorses Hunter-Smuggler plan | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County endorses Hunter-Smuggler plan

Staff report
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Pitkin County will sign on as a proponent of the Hunter Creek-Smuggler Mountain Cooperative Plan, county commissioners agreed Tuesday after a brief recap of the proposal.

The plan proposes habitat and recreation improvements on more than 4,000 acres of national forest on the edge of Aspen.

The U.S. Forest Service, the county, city of Aspen and the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies were partners in drafting the plan, with input from recreation and environmental groups, fire managers and others. It will be submitted for an environmental analysis that the National Environmental Policy Act requires, but its drafters hope that noncontroversial elements – proposals that already have community consensus – can move forward quickly.

“We hope, before 2013 is over, we could actually begin work,” said Chris Lane, CEO of the environmental group.

The environmental review, however, will allow for additional public comment.

The plan – it is available at http://www.hunter-smugglerplan.com – proposes more than 800 acres of potential forest-restoration projects that also can improve wildlife habitat and reduce wildfire danger.

On the recreation front, it proposes 1.7 fewer miles of trail overall by closing redundant routes but also identifies opportunities for new trails and connections. It also proposes improved signs to direct trail users on the various routes in the Smuggler, Hunter Creek and Van Horn Park areas and the creation of better maps.

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