There is a new proposal to open a large number of Chaffee County roads to unlicensed Off Highway Vehicle use, and it has the potential to negatively impact you, your home, and the entire county. County roads are closed to OHV use (ATVs and dirt motorcycles) by state law. Counties have the authority to modify this.
Opening county roads to OHVs will negatively impact habitat, ecosystems, all quiet users, existing uses, residents, the enviroment and safety along these routes. The proposal includes opening Spiral Drive/County Road 176 and a section of County Road 173 on City of Salida Open Space land on Tenderfoot Hill., which could shroud downtown Salida, the riverfront, the Salida Mountain Trail system and the entire city in a cloud of noise, dust, exhaust, etc.
The proposal also includes opening County Road 185 further north off of Ute Trail/CR 175. This action will form a new connection between Salida and very heavily used Fourmile motorized recreation area near Buena Vista. Opening CR 185 will allow large numbers of OHVs and the OHV related problems of Fourmile (off route use, dust/erosion, dispersed motorized camping impacts, displacement of other public land users) to spread south to Salida.
This is not about access as all these roads are already open to licensed passenger vehicles. OHV users already have over 500 miles of open and legally designated routes available to them in Chaffee County. Its not about transportation as OHVs are recreational vehicles. It is about excess access for the convenience and fun for a small percentage of public land users (whose chosen form of recreation is very high impact and often not compatible with other uses).
Proponents of this proposal are presenting this as an economic benefit to the county. There may be limited benefits but the costs of potentially displacing our already existing economic base (the majority of locals and tourists who live here and visit to enjoy our quiet community, hike, bike, climb, boat, camp, fish, hunt etc, etc.) is far too great a risk to take for the benefit of a few.
This proposal has the potential to change the very nature of Chaffee County.
There will be a public input meeting regarding this Wednesday Feb 8 at 1 p.m. in the Commissioner Meeting room of the County Courthouse on Crestone Ave. in Salida. Anyone is welcome to comment in general or with specific reasons why specific routes should or should not be opened.
You can also submit email comments to the Commissioners and their staff at:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com
You can view the county memo with more information at http://gigshowcase.com/EndUserFiles/33312.pdf
The above press release was submitted by The Chaffee Running Club. We have reviewed the proposal here at The Citizen and believe Chaffee County should fight this proposal and continue its pursuit of quiet use visitors. Our experience around quads has been consistently poor. With an extensive effort by Salida Mountain Trails in recent years to develop hiking and biking trails in and around Salida, the idea of letting the notoriously fast and often out of control quads on roads with blind corners and loose gravel, (where small children hike and learn to ride bikes) is comical. If you need proof, head up Silver Creek this 4th of July. Its unfortunate for responsible OHV riders, of which there are many in Chaffee County.