Officials want Quandary added to wilderness area
July 9, 2012
SUMMIT COUNTY – Some local officials are considering a pitch to Sen. Mark Udall to include Quandary Peak in the Central Mountains Outdoor Heritage Proposal, a bill that would designate more than 200,000 acres in Summit, Eagle and Pitkin counties as protected wilderness.
“It’s such a beautiful peak and such a well-used peak,” Breckenridge Mayor John Warner said of Quandary. “We would sure like to see that area protected.”
Local officials, environmentalists and the mountain biking community are still discussing the details of the Quandary plan.
The details of a companion designation to include the 14,265-foot mountain have not yet been formally presented to Udall.
Quandary’s inclusion in the wilderness bill likely would not have any impact on hiking, mountain biking or skiing in the area, but might prohibit hiking with dogs on the peak, Warner said.
Breckenridge officials say the inclusion would complement town and Summit County government open space purchases in the same area.
“We feel we have a great start at a nice parking area or trailhead that won’t interrupt the neighbors up in the Blue Lakes area,” Warner said. “To me, if we’re going to have a nice trailhead, we ought to have a mountain that is free of non-wilderness activities. My feeling is that Quandary should be part of this new wilderness proposal.”
Initially, locals asked that the Tenmile Range be included in a similar wilderness proposal sponsored by Congressman Jared Polis.
All but a small portion of the range was left out due to conflicts with in-holdings.
“Looking at maps … we thought we could figure out a way to redraw the boundaries so that it would minimize conflicts … but also include Quandary Peak, which is sort of the centerpiece of the Tenmile Range area,” Colorado Environmental Coalition wilderness coordinator Kurt Kunkle said.
The county and the town own many of the in-holdings on Quandary. Breckenridge has no plans to develop those with roads, Warner said.
The proposals for companion designations in Udall’s wilderness bill may include other trails as well as Quandary, proponents said.
“We think it’s going to be a very valuable proposal and will work very well for the future of the recreation economy in the county,” International Mountain Biking Association policy director Ashley Korenblat said.
Proponents said there might be some resistance from the U.S. Forest Service to the Quandary modification proposal, but Forest Service officials would not comment or take a position on the issue.
“We don’t have a feeling one way or another about addition new wilderness areas,” Forest Service spokesman Bill Kight said. “If Congress passes a law and makes it a wilderness area, we’ll manage it. We don’t have an opinion one way or another because we don’t influence legislation.”
Udall is also considering a proposal for a 20,000-acre wilderness area in Browns Canyon on the Arkansas River.
Maps and additional information on the plans are available online at http://www.markudall.senate.gov.