Abused trailhead to get restrictions | VailDaily.com

Abused trailhead to get restrictions

Cliff Thompson

The closure, was well as removal of campsites, is one of the provisions of the new White River National Forest Plan, adopted last year.

“It’s not a developed campsite, and people are creating a lot of impacts,” said Dave Van Norman, assistant district ranger for the Holy Cross District of the White River National Forest. “This is right in line with the new forest plan that designates the area as (elk) winter range.”

The Two Elk area has seen plenty of abuse from motorcycles, ATVs, campers and people using the nearby shooting range, Van Norman said.

“It’s something that’s badly needed,” added Jim Gonzales, a lifelong Minturn resident and chairman of the Eagle County chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “People just use it and abuse it.”

The area is part of the critical winter habitat for a herd of nearly 500 elk, Gonzales said, who said he has seen dogs brought to the area by people using the road, harassing elk.

“Vehicles go in there, and it just raises hell with the animals,” he said.

Van Norman said the Forest Service will remove the campsites near the creek and the last quarter mile of the road will be closed and revegetated. And a parking area will be created near the existing shooting range, Van Norman said.

Van Norman said last summer a number of people used the area as a homestead. The Forest Service allows campers to use designated campgrounds for up to 14 days.

“It’s been a popular place for people to camp when they’re working in town,” he said.

He and Gonzales said there has been abuse of the area by people on motorcycles, snowmobiles and ATVs.

“They’re crossing the creek and going up the power line (corridor) and going up Battle Mountain,” Van Norman said. “It’s creating erosion because the trail goes straight up the hill without any water bars.”

The shooting range will remain, Van Norman said. But that’s a sore point with Gonzales.

“The shooting range just gets abused,” Gonzales said. “I’m sure there’s a few good people who clean up after they shoot. Most just leave their trash. It gives legitimate hunters and the public a bad name. If you abuse it, you should lose it.”

Gonzales said earlier this week someone has used beer bottles for targets and had left the jagged glass behind. Elk seeking water access the Eagle River via the shooting range, he said, adding he would like to see the Minturn shooting range closed.

Van Norman said his agency will be taking public comments for the next 30 days. For more information, call the Forest Service at 827-5715.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555 ext 450 or cthompson@vaildaily.com.

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