Motor-vehicle users appeased for now |

Motor-vehicle users appeased for now

David L'Heureux
Kathy Heicher/EnterprisePlanner Bill Gray, Eagle Mayor Jon Stavney and Town Clerk Marilene Miller look at a potential open space access point during a field trip. Castle Peak is in the background.

Motorized-vehicle users should soon be able to travel in at least some portion of town of Eagle open space. At last week’s town board meeting Tuesday night, virtually all board members voiced support for some access for motorized use. That goes against the town staff’s recommendation for no motorized access through town open space, and would be a compromise to motor-vehicle users who worried they would be left out of the mix.”We heard from motor-vehicle users that they wanted to build public trust by showing they can use town open space responsibly,” said mayor John Stavney. “If use is responsible, then we will let it continue.”

The question then became where.Town trustees Jay Bryant and Paul Witt called for access at Hockett Gulch for motorized use only. Trustee Kraige Kinney concurred, but said there should also be mountain bike access at Hockett.Trustees Ed Woodland and Stephen Richards viewed a “2nd and 3rd Gulch staging area” for motor vehicle users as the best answer.The immediate problem with the Hockett access is users must cross private property- either Corky Fitzsimmons’ or JHY (Adams Rib) land- to get to it. A temporary parking site at 2nd Gulch could be done more immediately, because there are no outside entities to deal with.

That ended up being the deciding factor.”We are going to try to do 2nd Gulch access for now,” said Stavney. “The intention being to shoot for Hockett Gulch access if we can work that out with private land owners. We also want to work with the (Bureau of Land Management) to get a parking area at Hardscrabble, with a kiosk with maps and signs for users.”Motorized user Mike Rose said the board’s decision to allow motor-vehicle use represented “a new opportunity for government and the community to enter into a trusting compromise.”Beyond the motorized adaptation to the staff recommendation, little else changed. The board earmarked Hernage Gulch for pedestrian access only – no more horses – due to its status as critical wildlife habitat. They continued to support seasonal closures, and stressed the need for trail volunteer groups, jointly organized by ECO Trail’s members, the Bureau of Land Management and town open space staff.

Town staff will now draw up a final draft for travel through Eagle open space, which will be voted on by the board at a Sept. 14 meeting. Until then, current laws will be enforced, but motorized users may be able to use town open space “by the end of September,” according to Stavney.”We will need some time to get the necessary signage in place,” said Stavney. “After that, people will be able to park trailers at a temporary lot on Fourth of July Road and ride from there throughout the fall.”All of this could change by next year, depending on what progress is made with private landowners near the potential Hockett Gulch access point. The speed with which Eagle Ranch developers begin work along Fourth of July Road next year will also affect its status as an access point.Kathy Heicher is a regular contributor to the Vail Daily. She is the editor of the Eagle Valley Enterprise, based in Eagle, Colorado. She can be reached at Colorado

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