County finds resolution over Eagle’s Bellyache Road
Eagle, CO Colorado
EAGLE, Colorado ” A coalition of government officials, nearby property owners, and recreationalists have found a middle ground for users of Bellyache Road out of Eagle.
The Eagle County commissioners on Tuesday approved a plan that will allow continued use of the popular access road by the recreating public, while addressing the concerns of adjacent property owners.
Bellyache Road, accessed through the Bluffs subdivision, has historically been open to the public for year-round motor vehicle use. The road is the only motorized access for 5,000-6,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management lands, and is popular with deer and elk hunters. In recent years, as the town has grown and the Bluffs subdivision has built out, the road has also become more popular for mountain bikers and hikers.
Last summer, some property owners the Bluffs raised concern about safety issues, particularly after an off-road vehicle was driven over closed areas, damaging signs and vegetation. At a work session with the county commissioners, Bluffs residents voiced concern about issues ranging from erosion to trash, vandalism, and partying in the area, as well as conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users.
“It is both a curse and a blessing to have access to the great outdoors right outside your back door,” said County Commissioner Sara Fisher.
The county created a task force of Bluffs homeowners, Bellyache road users, and law enforcement agencies to develop recommendations for the road. The recommendation accepted by the county commissioners calls for the following action:
– Seasonal closure of the road from Dec. 1 through April 30. Snowmobiles will still be allowed to use the access. There is some flexibility in closure dates taking into account weather conditions and late hunting seasons.
– Grading and road base improvements on the first half mile of the road. The commissioners indicated they will consider the $77,000 cost in their capital budget, and indicated they will seek funding partners.
– Initiating an education plan that will include newspaper articles, signs and leaflets explaining Bellyache users responsibilities.
– Organizing an annual volunteer cleanup of the area.
– Due to limited parking at the immediate access, encouraging users to park at the spaces designated at the nearby park in the Bluffs.
– Stepped-up law enforcement in the area, including random weekend patrols.
Since the problems were first discussed last spring, the Eagle Police Department and Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies have increased their presence in the area.
“This year has been fantastic,” said Scott Schlosser, a member of the Bluffs Homeowners Association.
Maryann Michaelis, of the Bluffs HOA, noted that the Bellyache area is heavily used by all types of recreationalists, including her husband, who runs the road daily.
“I think we’re making some great progress. We brought all the user groups together. We still need a little more work to meet our needs,” she said.