Volunteers training to keep public lands motor-free | VailDaily.com

Volunteers training to keep public lands motor-free

Scott N. Miller/Special to the Daily
A group of local volunteers is training to keep open lands east of Eagle closed to motorized vehicles and help enforce signs like the one pictured above.

The Bureau of Land Management will host a training session at 6 p.m., Monday, at the fire station in Eagle. At the session, volunteers will learn the fine points of contacting people on the land. That parcel was closed to motorized use in April and volunteers hauled off tons of trash that had been dumped on the parcel over past decades.

With the exception of access via a county road, the area has technically been closed to motorized use since the 1980s, but the order was never enforced. As Eagle has grown, the area became a widely-used playground for a variety of off-road vehicles. Some of those users are apparently reluctant to give up the parcel.

A fence has been put up across the property’s boundary with the Bluffs subdivision and illegal trails have all been blocked and marked with signs. But that hasn’t stopped some people determined to doing things the old way. Volunteers have hauled off fresh trash over the summer, signs have been knocked down and barriers moved.

Tom Ehrenberg, the Eagle Town Board member who has been among the lead volunteers on the project, said education will take some time. “We’re just going to have to be patient,” he said.

This fall, though, about $50,000 worth of revegetation work will be done, making it more important to keep people on designated trails. That’s part of the reason volunteers are needed.

“The more people who are aware of the new trails and the project, the more likely it is to succeed,” said Bureau of Land Management district officer Jamie Connell.

Leslie Kehmeier, who serves on Eagle County’s ECO Trails committee, said volunteers use informational flyers to help people understand how the parcel is now being managed.

While volunteers can ask for cooperation, they can’t demand it. Only Bureau of Land Management officers can write tickets for violations. There will be a uniformed presence in the area, though. The Greater Eagle Fire Protection District has agreed to help patrol the area twice a day.

Fire Chief Jon Asper said the department will run a daily log, contact people, and ask for help in keeping the area clean.

“We’re professionals, and we wear uniforms, so that might help,” said Asper.

People who observe trashy campsites or illegal dumping and road use are urged to write down vehicle license numbers and contact the Bureau of Land Management for follow-up, Asper added.

The department’s six-wheel all terrain vehicle will be used to help haul out trash when feasible, but the vehicle will also be required to stick to the county road.

“We see this as a courtesy patrol,” said Asper.

Kehmeier said she and other volunteers remain committed to the project and want to see the scarred hillside rehabilitated.

“We’re totally excited about this project. It’s a neat resource for everyone in the valley,” she said.

This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.

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