The Bureau of Land Management Tres Rios Field Office is seeking public comment on an environmental assessment that considers expanding parking areas at the Sand Canyon and Rock Creek trailheads to improve access to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
The comment period is until Aug. 13 and can be submitted to the BLM Tres Rios Field Office, 29211 Colorado Highway 184, Dolores, CO 81323, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The environmental assessment is available for review at https://go.usa.gov/xQKjr.
The Sand Canyon trailhead is west of Cortez and is the most popular place to begin to explore the monument. Currently, over 30,000 visitors a year utilize the area for recreation, and parking has been an ongoing dilemma, said monument manager Marietta Eaton.
“We appreciate the public’s input as we consider ways to improve parking and enhance public safety in this area,” she said.
The current parking lot only allows for about 20 vehicles on rough slickrock. Overflow parking often spills onto the shoulder of County Road G, a potential traffic hazard. Parking along Road G near the trailhead is prohibited under Montezuma County ordinance, and the rule is posted.
The South Sand Canyon Trailhead/Parking Area improvement project analyzes the development of a larger parking area and trailhead to improve access to the existing trail network.
There are four options, including the “no-change” Alternative A.
Alternative B This option proposes improvement and expansion of the existing parking area to provide parking for about 40 passenger vehicles and two oversize vehicles. The parking area would be approximately 50 feet wide (north to south) by 350 feet long (east to west).
The parking area improvements would consist of coarse base and gravel fill placed on top of the existing sandstone parking area surface and bounded by stone or naturalized concrete borders. Appropriate drainage features and a retaining wall would be included in the construction to provide a stable and well-drained parking area. Parking curbs/stops would identify vehicle parking spaces. Improvements would also include a new information kiosk and new interpretive signs at the parking area.
Alternative CAlternative C would include construction of a new parking area and connector trail about a half-mile east of the existing parking area. The alternative includes building the improvements to the current parking lot as described in Alternative B. The new parking area would provide parking for nine passenger vehicles and three oversize vehicles. The parking surface would be gravel fill placed on top of base coarse, bounded by stone or naturalized concrete borders. Vehicles could enter from or exit to the eastbound and westbound lanes of Road G.
This alternative includes construction of a trailhead with information and interpretation, north of the parking area. A half-mile trail would provide access to the existing Sand Canyon Trail.
Alternative DThis option proposes to use a portion of the Montezuma County right of way easement on the shoulder of Road G for a new parking area just west of the intersection of Road J. The plan includes the proposed improvements to the existing Sand Canyon parking lot outlined in Alternative B. The new county-owned parking area would provide parking for 17 passenger vehicles and six oversize vehicles. In combination with Alternative B, there would be 57 passenger vehicle parking spaces and eight oversize vehicle parking spaces for users of the Sand Canyon and Rock Creek Trails
Access to the county parking area would only be allowed for westbound traffic on Road G. East and westbound traffic could utilize the improved/existing Sand Canyon parking area described in Alternative B.
Mailed comments must be postmarked by Aug. 13.