Road use riles Eagle
EAGLE, Colorado ” Eagle County’s proposal to temporarily close Bellyache Road to motor vehicles prompted a clash of cultures at this week’s Eagle Town Board meeting.
The popular access route through Bureau of Land Management property east of town is located at the eastern edge of The Bluffs subdivision. Bellyache Road itself is a county road. The Eagle County Commissioners are considering closing the road until Sept. 15, while the future of the access is decided.
Bellyache Road has long been a popular spot for hunters, four-wheelers, dirt bikers and others. Since the development of The Bluffs subdivision, the access has seen more mountain bike and hiker use.
Residents of the subdivision, meanwhile, have voiced safety concerns about ATVs and dirt bikes zooming down their streets. They also complain about trash and animal carcasses left around the area.
At a recent town board meeting, Mike Trujillo, president of The Bluffs Homeowners Association, said residents urged the commissioners to close the Bellyache access in the neighborhood because of on-going safety complaints.
“To think a residential community and motorized vehicles and co-exist … may have been a good idea at the time, but it just doesn’t happen,” he said.
Other Bluffs residents spoke about motorcycles barreling down sidewalks in the subdivision, nearly missing playing children.
In response, recreationalists who have used the area for years vehemently opposed the proposed motor vehicle ban.
Terry Quinn compared the issue to the conflicts that arise when residential subdivisions are build near airports, subsequently prompting noise complaints by neighbors.
“I’ve been hunting up there,” Quinn said. “I would like to know how I can get my deer or elk out without a motorized vehicle?”
Several downvalley hunters echoed that sentiment, saying they have used the road for generations.
Craig Wescoatt of the Colorado Division of Wildlife strongly advocated keeping the access open for motor vehicles. He said the elk population in the area has outgrown resources and a harvest by hunting is necessary to keep animal numbers manageable. Closure of the road to motorized vehicles will significantly reduce the number of hunters who use the area, said Wescoatt.
Both the neighbors and the recreationalists agreed only a small number of the Bellyache Road users are causing the problems.
“I don’t think its fair to the people who use the area respectfully to cut it off for everyone,” said Eagle resident Todd Shainholtz.
Town board members unanimously sided with the recreationalists, noting the access was clearly defined when The Bluffs was approved. They also urged more law enforcement in the area.
Eagle Police Chief Rodger McLaughlin noted he is working with Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy to have the town officers deputized. If this arrangement is approved, the town cops would be authorized to write tickets for violations along Bellyache Road.
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