Residents: limit vehicles on The Crown
December 11, 2007
EL JEBEL ” Midvalley residents working on a management plan for a popular playground of public land called The Crown reached consensus last night to clamp down on motorized use.
“This is such a small area and motorized uses have such a big impact,” said one of about 50 residents who showed up to help draft a proposal.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is working on a new land management plan for 500,000 acres in its Glenwood Springs district. That plan will dictate use for the next 25 years.
The agency enlisted resident input for planning on The Crown, a 6,000-acre parcel between El Jebel and Mount Sopris that is becoming as popular for midvalley residents as Hunter Creek is to Aspenites.
A diverse group of users , including mountain bikers, equestrians, dirt bikers, adjacent landowners and ranchers with grazing allotments, met for a third time Monday night to discuss a management plan. They hope to forward a recommendation to the BLM by Feb. 1.
After working in small groups, then recollecting as a whole, the residents learned that most of them favored limiting use by off-road vehicles. The majority wanted to limit four-wheel-drive vehicles, all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes to the south central and southwestern portion of The Crown, to limit noise, disturbance of wildlife and erosion. A much larger swath, about three-fourths of The Crown, would be off-limits to vehicles under the proposal.
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Right now all 6,000 acres are open to off-road vehicles, except during winter. During summer, “open travel” off established roads and trails is allowed.
A few participants asked if it was fair to change the rules so drastically.
“This has been their traditional place,” noted David Hamilton, executive director of Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers and facilitator of the meeting.
Limiting vehicles might be popular with the participants of the meeting, but it won’t be with the public at-large, said Rory Cerise, who lives at the base of The Crown, runs cattle there in the summer and has explored the area for four decades. Motorized travel is the single biggest use up there, he said.
Popular sentiment outweighed the objections. The BLM has already announced it will restrict travel to roads and trails. Residents want to take restrictions a step further.
There is no guarantee the BLM will accept the residents’ recommendation.
Mountain bikers concerned about potential conflicts with dirt bikes on a popular single-track trail network off of Prince Creek Road were assured certain routes could be closed even within the area designated as appropriate for motorized use.
Various user groups also were willing to put personal desires aside to support wildlife. The idea of expanding the winter closure to include hikers and cross-country skiers appeared to earn widespread support.
The group plans to tackle weighty issues, such as uses allowed on specific trails, seasonal closure and access points, at a meeting on Jan. 9. The meetings are open to everyone. Past work by the group can be viewed at rfov.org.