Snowmobilers face speed limit |

Snowmobilers face speed limit

Jeremy Heiman

A group working on a management plan for the Little Annie/Richmond Ridge area has come to some agreement on snowmobile use on the backside of Aspen Mountain.

Regulation of commercial guides and outfitters through an ordinance drafted by Pitkin County was also on the group’s agenda Monday. Members were asked for comments on proposals for two huge motorcycle rides over Taylor and Pearl passes later in the year.

John Ham, head of the Aspen Snowmobile Club, and Ellen Sassano, long-range planner for Pitkin County, announced a tentative decision to limit snowmobile speeds on Little Annie and Midnight Mine roads.

“The speed we were discussing is 15 or 20 miles an hour,” Sassano said.

“I know there are guys that want to go 40 or 50,” said Ham. But he concluded that 20 was about the safe maximum. Area residents agreed with the speed limit, but questioned the availability of enforcement.

“As a practical matter, it won’t get done,” predicted homeowner Randy Gold. Others blamed speeding problems on snowmobilers involved in powder skiing on the mountain.

Cindy Houben, Pitkin County’s planning director, said she and Pitkin County Attorney John Ely have drafted an ordinance that would streamline the permitting process for commercial outfitters. It would, if approved, give outfitters clearance to operate from both the county and the U.S. Forest Service.

On another issue, Paula Cote, of the Forest Service’s Aspen Ranger District, announced the Gunnison National Forest is asking for comments on two motorcycle events proposed by the Colorado 500 organization. The first, on Aug. 4-6, 1999, would involve 200 riders traveling from Aspen to Mt. Crested Butte by way of Taylor Pass and returning over Pearl Pass. The second, running from Sept. 13 to Sept. 18, would have an estimated 350 motorcyclists riding the same route.

The next Richmond Ridge planning meeting is scheduled for March 15. For more information call Sassano at 920-5098 or Cote at 925-3445.

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