Vail Daily letter: ‘No’ to Red Cliff plan
How many snowmobiles or ATVs does it take to make Shrine Pass Road dangerous? We’ll find out soon enough. However, some think this has already happened. It’s about to get worse. If you recreate on Shrine Pass Road, or on any of the trails surrounding Red Cliff, whether with a motorized vehicle or not, please read this letter. This issue may both concern and disturb you, as there’s a risk of the closure of Shrine Pass Road. The board of trustees of the town of Red Cliff recently approved a motion to allow motorized recreational vehicle rental businesses (for unguided tours), previously not listed as an allowable business in our code, by a vote of 3–2. One such business has been operating for the past year. Now, another business of this type wants to operate at the main intersection of town.
Our master plan specifically states in the introduction under “the vision” that ”the citizens of Red Cliff would like a town that provides the traditional public services while maintaining the historical, mining mountain-town environment. They accept the fact that they may have to work harder to preserve this lifestyle … ” I don’t know how snowmobile/ATV businesses maintain the historical character of Red Cliff.
Residents in Red Cliff are being asked to sacrifice their coveted asset of peace and quiet, two attributes that were repeatedly mentioned as what residents liked the most about living in Red Cliff in a recent survey. Sounds in our little canyon carry very well. More machines mean more noise.
We’re also being asked to give up our safety on Shrine Pass Road and other local trails. Many Red Cliff residents have snowmobiles, ATVs, dirt bikes, etc. Some live here due to the accessibility to trails. We have many visitors coming down Shrine Pass Road (who go to Mango’s and drink alcohol) as well as those on machines from Nova Guides. Add to this mix people on rental machines (who have possibly never been on a snowmobile or ATV), along with mountain bikers, hikers, tourists in cars, people out walking their dog, and what do you get? You get a dangerous situation, accidents waiting to happen. The only medical facilities we have in town are a couple of defibrillators. It takes at least 20 minutes for emergency services to arrive in town.
Nova Guides has the monopoly on all forest permits for guided tours. True, the nonguided customers are given a safety speech beforehand, but still they are, for the most part, unexperienced. Not only are they unexperienced with the machines, they aren’t knowledgeable about the terrain or conditions at high altitudes. Many have problems just breathing at high altitude.
You’d best have good hearing and be nimble enough to get out of the way. (I have a friend who ended up in Turkey Creek, with her mountain bike, avoiding a collision with a motorized vehicle). Camp Hale, Homestake Rd, and from what I hear, Fulford have all been overrun with these machines. Have you visited St. Elmo recently? A friend of mine recently waited for a line of 47 ATVs to pass, near Tin Cup!
Some say that we need the sales tax revenue. I say we don’t. Our property values have gone up, mine by 97 percent. The town will be receiving more money next year. Allowing more motorized recreational vehicle rental businesses in town seems akin to prostitution. Some residents mistakenly think sales tax revenues will help pay off our debt. Sales tax revenues go into our general account, whereas the debt we carry is a liability held by our enterprise account.
The existing businesses in town say they need these machine riders to provide more customers for themselves. I admit they have a challenge during the shoulder seasons, but I would say to them that they need to be more creative with special events and other promotions.
We would be doing people a favor if we were promoting hiking, snowshoeing, biking, cross-country skiing, etc. An existing business could rent snowshoes; provide maps of trails surrounding Red Cliff.
An attorney has been retained who has filed an appeal. This appeal will be addressed at a hearing on June 23 at 6 p.m. at the Town of Red Cliff Council Chambers. We need people to show up at this meeting to show their opposition to more motorized vehicle rental businesses in town.
I’d like to remind the Red Cliff Board of Trustees that they are supposed to represent the people.
A fund has been set up to pay for the attorney fees. Please go to http://www.gofundme.com/ShrinePassRedCliff to contribute. I’ve heard many of you have voiced your opposition to this issue. Please put your money into helping with this effort.