Motorcycles to the rescue |

Motorcycles to the rescue

Cattle owned by Crystal River Meats graze around the Highlands neighborhood in Eagle Ranch last week. Workers from the cattle company, the town of Eagle and Eagle Ranch herded the cows back to their BLM grazing permit area and set out to repair fences late last week.
Special to the Enterprise |

After a wet spring snowstorm, followed by the arrival of some bovine visitors, left bike trails in the Eagle Open Space system a churned up, rutted mess, organizers of last week’s Eagle Outside Festival and Expo turned to an unlikely group for help — the motorized cycling community.

Eagle Marketing and Events Coordinator Amy Cassidy said she started hearing chatter May 11 suggesting the trails were in trouble for the Eagle Outside event, planned May 17-18.

“I want to see if the comments being posted on Facebook were real or an exaggeration,” she said. “On Monday morning, I went out to run the trails to see it for myself, and yeah, they were a disaster.”

The culprits contributing to the situation were the late, wet snowstorm, the arrival of cattle for a U.S. Bureau of Land Management grazing allotment, some silt-filled cattle guards and a number of fencing gaps.

Eagle Town Manager Jon Stavney noted that when the owners of Crystal River Meats, the operation running the cows, were notified about the situation they quickly responded and set to fence mending work. Additionally, Eagle Ranch and town personnel assisted with finding fence gaps and herding the cows back to where they belong.

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“Fences do get cut or broken during the course of the winter,” Stavney said, noting some of the fence breaks were obviously the work of humans who wanted easier access to the open space network.

Another issue contributing to the problem were silt filled flat cattle guards that the cows learned to cross. To address that problem, the former raised gates have been reassembled along open space trails. “That’s how we are keeping the cows out of Eagle Ranch,” Stavney said.

But even when crews were able to address the issue of getting cows back to where they were supposed to be, the cattle had left rutted tracks behind. But the mountain biking community found assistance from an unlikely quarter

Motors to the rescue

On May 13, shortly before noon Lachie Thomas of the Rocky Mountain Sport Riders pasted the following on his Facebook page:

“Hey all, the Eagle Outside Festival needs our help. The following is a post from Mike McCormack: ‘Anybody in Eagle up for a moto session on the motorized sections of the Ranch Loops? Recent rain and grazing cattle have really mucked up everything above the cattle grates on Mayer Gulch, Second Gulch, the doubletrack section of Riddle and the singletrack on the backside of Bailey. Just a tiny bit of moto pressure would turn a choppy situation into something really, really excellent.’”

Within a couple of hours, many group members had enthusiastically weighed in, volunteering to ride about and smooth out the tracks.

“I know there are a number of us willing to help. It will be great to show the town and the community that we can be respectful, helpful and even an asset at times. Anyone reading this that’s planning on helping, remember to keep these things in mind to build a positive relationship within the community and valley and be sure to tread lightly,” responded one member.

“They just responded so positively,” said Cassidy. “I was just blown away by how quickly they (motorized riders) responded and how gracious they were. And they had a great time riding.”

Cassidy noted that by Saturday, when the Eagle Outside Festival kicked into high gear, the town’s trails were back to normal. Which was fortunate, considering that two other mountain biking events in Colorado were postponed last weekend and as a result, Eagle Outside was the last option left.

Event raves

In the aftermath of Eagle Outside, Cassidy said she’s heard raves about the weekend festival. She credited organizer Mike McCormack for planning and executing a well-run and fun-packed event. And, of course, fantastic spring weather also helped bring folks to town.

“People were just so ready to be outside and their bikes,” Cassidy noted.

There were 279 competitors in the Firebird MTB race and 183 runners for the Vail Recreation District La Sportiva Boneyard Boogie trail run. Cassidy said the Eagle Ranch 5K fun run on Sunday was a great addition to the overall Eagle Outside schedule along with various kids activities at the Dusty Boot on Sunday.

“Last year, the Dusty Boot said they had their busiest day ever during the event and this year, they told me they were 30 percent above that,” said Cassidy. “The various vendors were extremely happy with the event and talking to local hotels, they reported high occupancy.”

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