Vail Open Lands Plan review continues with trails discussion Tuesday, Aug. 7
VAIL — The Vail Town Council will continue its detailed review of the update to the Comprehensive Open Lands Plan during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 7. The focus of Tuesday’s discussion will be the topic of trails, which is described in Chapter 4 of the plan. Tuesday’s meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. with a two-hour site visit to select locations throughout the community to review proposed trail ideas.
Following the tour, the draft 2018 Open Lands Plan Update is scheduled for review and discussion by the council during the evening session, which begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The presentation item is listed as 5.2 on the meeting agenda, with opportunities for public comment.
As drafted, the proposed update includes a list of 12 trail ideas for consideration. These include possible new trails and trail improvements, all of which are recommended to be studied in greater detail before any new trails are constructed to determine potential impacts to wildlife and the natural environment. The update process has involved an inventory and analysis of 90 existing hard- and soft-surface trails totaling nearly 200 miles in and around Vail. The inventory also identified 14 miles of unsanctioned trails, including some social neighborhood connector trails with significant weekly use.
Four guiding parameters have been used to evaluate trail ideas that have been generated during community outreach meetings:
• The trail is located such that it may be feasible through design, construction, management and mitigating measures to minimize adverse impacts on wildlife.
• The trail be designed and constructed to be safe for all intended users or the trail improves the safety of the trail system.
• The trail improves or expands recreational opportunities for one or more user group.
• The trail improves neighborhood connectivity or provides beneficial linkages between existing trails.
Among the trail recommendations to be discussed Tuesday is the existing Vail Trail, a soft-surface social trail located between Vail Village and the golf course. The draft plan recommends formalizing the trail with private property owners and the U.S. Forest Service, as well as providing improvements to address sustainability and accessibility. The trail is recommended to be a hiking-only trail.
An extension of the Vail Trail to the east is also proposed in the draft plan update which would provide a soft-surface alternative to the paved Gore Valley Trail through the town-owned Katsos Ranch open space. The draft plan acknowledges the importance of mitigating measures that would be needed to address elk winter range and a peregrine falcon nesting site.
Other recommendations include a North Trail to Davos connector; Avon/Nottingham Ridge connector; Intermountain to Lionshead connector; Son of Middle Creek to Red Sandstone Road connector; Vail Mountain cross connector and Two Elk connector.
The draft plan also recommends evaluating all social trails including those in the Intermountain and Matterhorn neighborhoods as well as the East Vail water tank trail, and formalizing where appropriate. Also proposed is a new soft-surface trail that would parallel Red Sandstone Road and Piney Lake Road.
Also to be reviewed at Tuesday’s meeting is a follow up on topics that were discussed previously by council related to recommendations on land for environmental protection as well as town-owned lands and use of lands to meet community needs. Future review meetings will include a follow up on trails related issues raised at the Aug. 7 meeting, as well as other plan revisions that are supported by the Town Council.
The update of the 1994 Comprehensive Open Lands Plan was initiated by the council in April 2016 to determine which parts of the original plan have been completed, which parts are still relevant and to identify new needs based on current issues such as protection of Gore Creek water quality, recreational opportunities, including trails, as well as the potential for acquisition of sites for housing and other public uses.
The community is encouraged to participate in council’s continuing review of the recommended update. The review follows a recommendation of approval, with modifications, forwarded by the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission on April 23.