Thursday, February 18, 2016

Forest Service Seeks Comments on Proposal to Improve Trails Near Winter Park

New trails, enhanced trailheads, and better connectivity to towns are part of the U.S. Forest Service’s proposal to improve its trails system in the Winter Park and Fraser area. Project specifics are being unveiled today on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests’ web site, and the public is being asked for input.

The Forest Service has collaborated with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Headwaters Trails Alliance, the towns of Winter Park and Fraser and other local groups, including Grand Mountain Bike Alliance and the Grand County Wilderness Group through the Grand County Community Master Trails Plan to develop this proposed action.

The project would connect existing trail networks in the Winter Park and Fraser areas by constructing up to 18 miles of new trails and rerouting or improving existing trails. It would create loop systems with varying difficulty levels close to communities for mountain biking, hiking, and other trail users.

In addition to improving the trail system in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, the proposal would limit bicycle use to designated system trails and roads on across the entire Sulphur Ranger District. Non-system (social or user created) trails could be obliterated.

The detailed proposal, project maps and information on how to submit comments are available on the project webpage. In addition, the Forest Service is hosting an open house in order to provide more information about the project from 6-7:30 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2016, at the Headwaters Trail Alliance Office, located at 120 Zerex Street in Fraser.

The public has until March 18, 2016, to submit comments on any aspect of this project. Comments will be used to identify issues and develop alternatives to the proposal. An interdisciplinary team will then assess the potential environmental effects of each alternative on various resources, including watersheds, wildlife habitat and vegetation among others. The results of this analysis are expected to be published in an environmental assessment, which will be released in conjunction with a draft decision. Only people who participate in the current comment period will have an opportunity to object to the decision.

The Forest Supervisor will make the final decision on this proposed project.

If approved, implementation of the proposed trail system by the Forest Service and its partners could take up to 10 years, though the goal would be completion within 5 years. Restricting bicycle use to designated system roads and trails across the Sulphur Ranger District would be implemented no sooner than 90 days after a decision is signed by the Forest Supervisor. The Forest Service would pursue funding to implement the proposed trail improvements through its partners, including Headwaters Trail Alliance; Denver Water; local communities; federal and state grants; and its own appropriated funding.


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