Eagle off-road motorists protest restrictions
Responding to a new ordinance that created enforcement authority and penalties for violating the town’s open space regulations, resident Mike Rose presented the town board with 128 petition signatures urging the Eagle Town Board to maintain motorized access through town open space to the adjacent property owned by the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM.
Eagle Town Attorney Ed Sands noted the ordinance passed Oct. 28 didn’t designate what trails would be closed to motorized use. However, until a an access plan is in place, motorcyclists and other users are prohibited from using trails through town-owned open space. A network of trails on BLM property, most of which are open to motorized use, can be accessed from the Hardscrabble area near Eagle, as well as from Spring Creek near Gypsum and another site near the Eagle County Regional Airport.
Rose urged that rather than closing all the town’s open space to motorized use, at least one access point should be created on Hockett Road, near Brush Creek Elementary School. That area is formerly agricultural land that is now part of town’s open space.
“We understand the environmental needs and we want to work with you on that,” said Rose. Town officials are concerned about erosion, damage to wildlife habitat, and land scars caused by motor vehicle use in the sage-brush covered country.
“If you designate one access point, you may eliminate others,” said Jim Groebe, owner of Toe’s Cycles, a new shop in Eagle.
Board members said they’re willing to listen, and to work with the riders. Board Member Tom Ehrenberg, a leader of the effort to rehabilitate a scarred hillside on BLM land just east of Eagle, said he’d be willing to work with a riders’ group.
Addressing the riders who attended the meeting, Ehrenberg said, “I’m not saying you guys do it wrong, but (access) can be abused.”
Ehrenberg noted that almost $100,000 worth of money and in-kind services have been put toward the East Eagle cleanup. However, he added, “It sounds like some promising things can happen with you, and I’m sure willing to listen.”
Board members indicated it’s not too late for town officials to work with trail riders and other users. Town Manager Willy Powell noted the BLM will in the next few years develop a travel management plan for the public lands adjacent beyond the town’s open space. That, he said, allows some time for the town and residents to come up with a local plan of how to access those areas.
This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.