Off-road riders want more trails in forest
ASPEN ” The White River National Forest’s proposed new plan for trail use is a step in the right direction but still shortchanges the growing legions of off-road vehicle enthusiasts, according to an organizer of motor vehicle riders’ groups.
Don Riggle credited the U.S. Forest Service for considering an increase in the miles of trails available to motorcyclists, all-terrain vehicle riders and four-wheel enthusiasts.
“They’ve made great strides,” he said.
Riggle is the director of operations for the Basalt-based Colorado 500 Inc. and an operations manager for the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Association.
Riggle said he will lobby the Forest Service to open more miles of trails and routes to motorized uses than the agency said it preferred in the recently released travel management plan for the forest.
That plan will decide which of the White River National Forest’s 4,000 miles of roads and trails will remain open and for what types of uses. It also settles the fate of about 1,045 miles of “bandit trails” created by users over the years.
Riggle isn’t pushing to create more roads or trails in the White River National Forest, he said. He just wants more of the existing routes “old logging roads and single track trails created by riders ” opened to off-road vehicles.
He’s also willing to leave wilderness lands alone. They are closed to all motorized and mechanized uses so they will be untrammeled by humans.
Environmentalists and some hikers and mountain bikers want larger sections of non-wilderness lands closed to motor vehicles for what Riggle claimed are “elitist” reasons.
“People think it’s their private backyard,” Riggle said. “People need to share what little is left open for all.”
The White River National Forest, which sprawls from Summit and Eagle counties toward Aspen and Glenwood Springs, has clamped down harder on off-road vehicles than surrounding forests, Riggle said.
Parts of the neighborhood Gunnison National Forest are “inundated” with motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles because it is channeled there. Demand is greater than the supply, Riggle said.
Off-highway groups have long contended that they should get more access because of the explosive growth of their form of recreation. Riggle said aging Baby Boomers face a tougher time hiking great distances in the woods, so they rely more on off-highway vehicles. National demographics promise to increase that trend, he said.
Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado