2017-18 Open Lands Plan feedback: Vail Trail Extension is unnecessary (letter) | VailDaily.com

2017-18 Open Lands Plan feedback: Vail Trail Extension is unnecessary (letter)

Editor's note: Find a cited version of this letter at http://www.vaildaily.com.

Town Council is beginning the review of the Open Lands Plan sent to it, after months of review by the Planning & Environmental Commission and public and is calling for at least two public hearings on this important document before its adoption later this summer.

I have been an active participant in nearly all Open Lands Plan and trails public meetings offered the last several years, before that meeting with Gregg Barrie after finding a map for proposed trail development in an annual report prepared for a winter community meeting at Donovan about 2014.

My concerns throughout have been for wildlife, fearing new trails and expansion of existing ones in habitat shared with these creatures would drive out the already reduced numbers of those remaining in the area. Our Colorado Parks & Wildlife staff, as it turns out, shared some of my concerns.

In a letter to Pete Wadden, town of Vail staff and an included report, Bill Andree stated his major concern that year-round human recreational activities are having a most adverse effect on deer, elk and other traditional species of wildlife in the Gore Valley. At the town-sponsored wildlife forum in January 2018, he further described their decline and the concomitant increase in nuisance species that profit from human activity, as bear, lion, fox, raccoons, etc., which consume our garbage, pets and pet food, and moose, which he said "go where they want to."

I salute the diligent work of the Planning & Environmental Commission and town staff, as I find the major modifications reflected in the later updates of the Open Lands Plan released this year reflect the views of wildlife professionals and community feedback and urge avoiding adverse impacts on wildlife with our activities as much as possible.

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The result, in my opinion, is a much stronger plan consistent with goals of a sustainable community. Particularly important will be the called-for biodiversity studies.

My chief remaining concern is the continued proposed development of the Vail Trail Extension through the Katsos Ranch section of East Vail as a 4-to-6-foot-wide mountain bike trail, either paralleling the existing asphalt trail or by developing the social trails through the woods on the south hillside.

I believe such a trail to be redundant with the existing asphalt trail, that it makes little sense since the Vail Trail at both its western and eastern ends, near the Memorial Park, are recommended to be "hiking only," thereby tempting cyclists to inappropriate incursions into those spaces, where, as our wildlife professionals have testified, it will impact wildlife. I do not understand why this "orphaned" segment of soft-surface trail is still proposed for development. I urge this trail segment, the Vail Trail Extension, be dropped from development consideration.

Anne Esson

Vail