Vail wants some trails closed |

Vail wants some trails closed

Cliff Thompson

The town of Vail, under pressure from neighbors worried about extreme fire danger and the possibility of illegal fireworks, has asked the U.S. Forest Service to close the Spraddle Creek trailhead near Vail and the Davos Trail at West Vail to vehicle traffic.

While Forest Service officials say they are sympathetic to the issue, the agency is bound, they say, by strict policy, making such closures difficult to enact quickly. The Forest Service can only close trails by executive order preceded by review by its own law enforcement division, as well as the office of the general counsel, says Holy Cross District Ranger Cal Wettstein.

“At this time we don’t foresee having to close roads,” he says. “If the situation gets worse and the fire danger become more extreme and we get much more people violating the campfire and firework ban, we’ll start looking harder at closing the entire forest – but I don’t foresee that.”

Still the town is concerned about the fire potential.

“We want to take every precaution possible,” says Vail’s assistant town manager, Pam Brandmeyer. “We’re afraid of a fire.”

In past years, Brandmeyer says, neighbors have reported finding smoldering remains of fireworks the morning after Fourth of July parties. She has seen fireworks coming from ridges overlooking Vail that are accessed only by the trails, she says.

This year’s conditions, meanwhile, are so dry a spark could result in a huge fire. The conditions are the driest in a century – so dry forced municipalities countywide have cancelled their annual fireworks displays.

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