From an article in the Daily Record: “This trail would increase access to two local trail systems and improve the outdoor recreation opportunities in the area,” said Keith Berger, Royal Gorge Field Office Manager. “We want to hear from the community about why the proposed trail is important, as well as any potential concerns.”
At only 22 pages, this document is MUCH more digestible than the last one we wrote about (the Resource Management Plan). Please consider viewing the EA in it's entirety here. If you're pressed for time, here are some important bullet points to know and consider before you make any comments.
- “The BLM’s overall goal for this project is to provide public access, provide high quality recreation opportunities, and improve the quality of life for the area’s residents.”
- Connects the Tunnel Drive Trail (and Rivewalk) to the Royal Gorge Park Trails (near the communication towers).
- This trail will be a challenging trail, and will probably be best hiked up / down or ridden by mountain bike downhill.
- The trail was identified in the Eastern Fremont County Trails, Open Space & River Corridor Master Plan (April 2015)
- This Environmental Assessment is created using the Resource Management Plan (1996), which mandates multi-use recreation (including hunting) on this area
- The draft management plan can be a) accepted, b) accepted with modifications, c) rejected
- Trail will be for foot (hike, run) and bicycle traffic only due to steep grades (~10%), potential conflict with other users, and specialized design.
- Elevation change of about 1,700 feet (that’s about a 157-story building)
- The trail would be about 2 miles long, runs through BLM property but begins and ends on City of Cañon City property
- Trail will be natural surface singletrack (from 18” to 3 feet wide)
- Leashed dogs will be permitted
- The trail would be closed from June 1 to November 1 to all uses except for hunting access
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Tunnel Drive to Fremont Peak connection trail proposal. As part of our Royal Gorge Master Plan, we believe that this connection will allow our community to move forward as we grow and expand our outdoor recreation options and are excited to participate in the next phase of planning for this project. We appreciate the need for sensitivity to both wildlife and multi-use needs of the various user groups associated with the proposal.
In order to preserve the natural lambing habitat as much as possible, we fully understand and support the proposed closure from June 1-August 31 for lambing. Our Bighorn Sheep herds are an asset to our area and our natural environment. We would like to express our support for this particular portion of the closure and for the educational campaigns that would be necessary to accomplish this goal.
In regard to the hunting season closure from September 1 through October 31st, we feel that both hunting and trail use could exist concurrently, as they do in many other areas. The small portion of the S49 hunting unit that would be traversed by the proposed trail is in close proximity to existing human impacts. The area adjacent to the proposed trail already includes two quarries, an active railroad, a popular river corridor, a theme park, and existing trails.
According to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife ‘2019 Colorado Sheep & Goat’ pamphlet, S49 allows for 2 Ram Bighorn Rifle Resident licenses, 5 Ram Bighorn Archery Resident licenses, and 1 Ram Bighorn Archery Non-resident license. The wait time to draw a tag for this area appears to be about 10-20 years. In contrast to this high demand, but low use, we anticipate that a trail connection would we be beneficial for a large number of local and visiting trail users, including hikers, wildlife viewers, trail runners, and bikers. The proposed trail would only affect a small portion of the S49 landscape, which includes over 632 square miles (259 on public land) all of which would remain open and available for hunting per current regulations and management. Given the high demand for S49 tags, an open trail on a very small portion of the entire S49 area is not likely to have any impact on the desire for tags and ultimately the financial income to CPW (which is only ~$4,400/yr for S49 tags).
Due to the relatively small portion of area S49 that would be directly affected by a trail, the limited number of hunters (8/yr) that have tags for the entire S49 unit, and also given the existing human activity in the area, we feel that the multi-use properties of the area could be preserved at all times of the year outside of the lambing season. For these reasons, we respectfully request that the September 1- November 1 seasonal closure for hunting be removed from the approved action.
Thank you for your dedication to the very difficult task of land management. We appreciate your time, commitment, and coordination on this and other projects.