Forest may trim ATV trails |

Forest may trim ATV trails

Bobby Magill

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Taking away an ATV trail in a national forest can be personal for many who find adventure by bounding over boulders with a four-wheeler on a rocky route deep in the woods.

The White River National Forest has proposed reducing slightly the number of miles of motorized vehicle trails. Forest officials say that would be good for recreation and good for the environment.

Use of ATVs and motorcycles in the forest is expected to increase drastically in the coming years. Forest Supervisor Maribeth Gustafson said the agency prefers balancing recreational demands with the needs of the environment rather than managing the forest’s trails and roads only for conservation or motorized vehicle use.

The proposed new plan, which has been in the works since 2002 and is set be finalized late next spring after a 90 day public comment period, outlines four options for how the WRNF’s roads and trails will be managed.

If forest officials’ preferred option, Alternative D, is approved, 188 miles of roads, three miles of ATV trails and 28 miles of motorcycle trails will be removed from the forest’s road and trail system, while 275 miles of hiking trails we be added.

There are now about 1,000 miles of “bandit” trails in the forest, while current motorized vehicle routes total about 2,100 miles.

Alternative D also calls for 826 miles of routes ” both “bandit” and otherwise ” to be closed. The no-action option, Alternative B, calls for more than 1,100 miles of routes to be closed, because most of them are “bandit” routes.

Forest travel planner Wendy Haskins said some of the trails and roads have been switched to other uses, and many trails could be designated for more than one kind of use. An ATV trail, for example, could also be listed as a motorcycle trail, and that trail’s mileage could be listed under the mileage totals for both kinds of uses.

Haskins said people can be confused by the mileage numbers, thinking that forest officials are trying to eliminate certain activities in the forest or completely open the forest up to others.

“We’re trying to develop a quality travel management network on the forest, and that encompasses a lot of uses,” she said. “A lot of people feel like they’re being targeted. … People kind of take it personally.”

The public has until Oct. 26 to comment on the proposal, which is available on the White River National Forest’s Web site,

Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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