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Plan emerges for Eagle trails

David L'Heureux

The Bureau of Land Management has teamed up with OTAK, a privately owned environmental planning group and consulting firm based in Carbondale, to hammer out an interim management plan for the Hardscrabble Open Area Trail System. The interim plan will serve until a more permanent Resource Management Plan can be devised.The Hardscrabble area, which consists of approximately 35 square miles of federal land south of Eagle and Gypsum, is being damaged by heavy use by hikers, mountain bikers, snowshoers and four-wheelers as well as horseback, motorcycle and ATV riders, federal officials say. The interim management plan will deal with resource problems and provide recommended trail routes based on input from trail users and the general public.

“We want to get input from the people in order to craft the plan,” said Jon Fredericks of OTAK. He and his colleagues will be the primary information gatherers for the Bureau of Land Management as the interim plan is crafted. “The more information we get from people about how they want to use the land, the more likely it will be that they will follow it once it goes into existence,” Fredericks said. While the plan is only a temporary one, it is likely to provide the framework for the future Resource Management Plan, which is a regional site-specific document. The temporary plan will be in place for about two to four years.

“We want to get a plan in place that will give people some direction so that they can get to the places they want to for recreation without having a negative impact on the entire system,” said Dorothy Morgan of the Bureau of Land Management. OATS’ Hardscrabble plan would be an interim strategy designed to encourage people to use the suggested trails while avoiding other areas, including surrounding private property. This strategy would reduce land damage, user conflict and confusion for those unfamiliar with the area.Federal officials and OTAK representatives were at a May Town of Eagle Open Space forum to hear what ideas area residents had regarding use of open space. The open space plans and the federal Resource Management Plan will be inextricably linked since access to much of the Hardscrabble land runs through town open space.

“We are keeping a close eye on developments with town of Eagle open space,” said Fredericks. “We want to make sure the east side of Hardscrabble will be a viable way into the BLM lands.”OTAK will be holding public input sessions during the first few weeks of July to gain what Fredericks calls, “invaluable” information from the areas’ citizens and trail users. Ultimately, the Bureau of Land Management hopes to get some signs put up and maps of the area made to better direct users to open, sustainable trails and loops within Hardscrabble, federal officials said.


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