Voice of the Wilderness Meeting 6/14/15

  1. Nick gave a brief history of the HTA and NFS involvement. Basically the FS was getting requests from various groups for trail construction. They agreed to work with the HTA to have them present one plan that was an agreement between the groups. Nick is aware that the HTA board is made up of MT bikers and that the consultant is an IMBA rep.

    HTA has provided the FS with a rough draft of their plan for the June 23rd meeting. Nick estimated that the FS could agree with about 60% of the proposed trails.

  2. Once the HTA presents their plan, the FS will review it and evaluate what may be feasible to implement. At that point, the NEPA process would begin and the standard public comment periods would be included.

  3. Unlike other parts of the country, historically, Grand County has had little input from the environmental community and more pressure from the development community.

  4. The Chamber sometimes pressures for more trails for economic development. Perhaps letters from the quiet/ wild community to the Chamber would be beneficial. Can we make Wilderness an economic driver. Nick mentioned that the Chamber and info center gets more request for good places to hike than any other questions.

  5. Nick provided maps showing current trails and the effective habitat areas within the eastern part of the County. Effective habitat is blocks of land with characteristics that make it a good place for wildlife. No particular wildlife is identified. This would have to be gathered from the species specific maps.

  6. Comments to the FS or HTA regarding trails or protection should be specific. Not necessarily geographically specific, but specific to an issue. Form letters are not the best way to gather support.

  7. The draft from HTA shows their hiking trail at Sheep Mt.; near the Y. Nothing else is planned.

  8. Trails that may be of interest to the WG as a whole:

    1. James Peak Protection area guidance has a feasibility study for a MT bike trail fro Rollins pass to James. The FS will have 2 years to complete this. They have not yet started it. It may not have a place to build a sustainable trail.

    2. They are looking at connecting trails to create a loop. Perhaps a connector between Rollins Pass and the Idlewild area. This may require the closure of some other trails because of the mileage cap in the James Peak Protection regs.

    3. Possible connector trail between BLM/Strawberry and the High Lonesome trail/road. Passes through and would disect a very sensitive effective habitat area. This would be in the buffer area for the James Peak Wilderness. Dave Maddox presented his information on the Enhanced Wildlife Habitat on CR 84. His observations of the effects of the recent increased activity in this area on the wildlife.

    4. User created mt bike trails have been created in the Byer's Peak Wilderness Area. Nick negotiated their removal from an app. Once the designated trails are defined, the FS would create their own app and clearly state that this is the only official trail app. Similar to the MOU maps, users will be responsible for knowing where they are allowed to ride. Do apps publishers want to be responsible for a ticket when a user goes on an undesignated trail shown on their map? Can public pressure keep user created trails to a minimum?

    5. Nothing more is known about the request to move the Indian Peaks Wilderness boundary at this time.

  9. Nick is looking at four 'blobs' of trails from the ski area that may be able to be connected and designed to offer the mileage and experience they are desiring.

  10. Are there example comments that would be helpful for us to have for reference. Perhaps Ralph can help us with those? Comments for less 'development' rather than more would be welcome.

  11. Using the maps, perhaps we can identify potential places for trails and places that should be avoided for any development.