ATVs barred from Red Cliff roads?
Red Cliff, CO Colorado
RED CLIFF, Colorado ” Nearly a dozen of Red Cliff, Colorado’s most popular roads for riding, hunting and other recreation will likely be restricted if the U.S. Forest Service follows through on a plan to revise its trail system.
The Red Cliff part of the plan, which is only a piece of the forest service’s update of the White River National Forest’s travel rules, is meant for safety and economical and environmental balance, said Brian Lloyd, a district ranger for the forest service.
The service, after years of examination, determined that certain roads couldn’t handle ATVs and cars at the same time.
The plan may also prohibit one of the more popular summer activities in Red Cliff ” riding ATVs through the roads off Shrine Pass Road. That doesn’t bode well for the town’s few businesses or the throngs of visitors attracted to Red Cliff’s many trails.
“In the summer, we won’t get as many four-wheel drive guys,” said Eric Cregon, owner of Mango’s Bar and Grill, which also has a hotel. “There’s really no other trails to ride around there.”
Cregon said it would also put a dent in the business of Nova Guides, which offers an array of outdoor activities in the area, including ATV rentals and tours.
The lone restaurant in town, Mango’s Bar and Grill, will take a hit, too, said employee Valarie Blevins. Both Cregon and Lloyd said Red Cliff is a popular destination for riders because of the trails.
“If they shut down all the side roads, that means business is going to suffer,” she said. “I understand they need to close down the roads to let them regenerate. I don’t understand why they have to shut them down in one fell swoop.”
Forest Service planner Wendy Haskins said Red Cliff isn’t the only town that will be affected by the updated plan because it encompasses the entire White River National Forest, which stretches through Eagle, Pitkin, Summit, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties.
Even though the second and final public comment period is over, a decision won’t be made until late spring or early summer, she said. That gives the service time to review and consider comments and make any changes it feels appropriate.
But Lloyd said it’s unlikely the popular riding trails will be available to ATV riders.
“Not everybody’s going to be happy,” Lloyd said. “I expect people will be unhappy because it’s not what they’re used to, it not staying the same.”
The good news is that the preferred plan likely won’t affect snowmobiling, Lloyd said.
That is a large chunk of the town’s business from travelers, Cregon said.
When the final plan is announced, what’s set forth is probably going to stick for at least a decade aside from some minor tweaks, Lloyd said.
The forest service is always willing to take comments and suggestions from people and groups, he said, to try and make the plan better for everybody. But it’s a difficult job for the service.
“It’s trying to find the balance of good management and what is sustainable environmentally, economically and socially,” he said.
Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or email@example.com.