An issue with a gate blocking the road to Yucca House National Monument south of Cortez appears to have been resolved.
On Tuesday, Mesa Verde National Park Superintendent Cliff Spencer reported that two visitors had informed officials of a closed, unlocked gate with a no-trespassing sign on Road 20.5 leading to the monument, which abuts a working ranch.
“It gave the illusion that the visitor was in the wrong place and should leave,” Spencer told the Montezuma County Board of Commissioners.
A Montana tourist had received directions from park officials on how to get to the monument but left when he came upon the gate and sign.
But on Friday, the gate was partially open, and the no-trespassing sign was gone. A new sign read “Please Close the Gate.”
The monument is preserved for its ancient ruins and is managed by the National Park Service. The access road includes a public easement to the entrance.
County road supervisor Rob Englehart said the ranchers told him the gate was being used to manage the calving season. They agreed to remove the no-trespassing sign and apologized, he said. After the calving season ends in a few weeks, the gate will be tied open.
County attorney John Baxter said it is illegal in Colorado – a misdemeanor – to block a public road.
Commissioners said 33-acre monument’s entrance is also the driveway for a working ranch, and it’s not practical for visitors to park there. It has been problematic for the rancher and confusing for tourists for years.
A solution is on the horizon. A neighboring landowner has agreed to donate a 160-acre parcel to the monument, which would provide space for a new entrance and parking lot away from the ranch.
Because the monument has expanded, its boundary adjustment must be facilitated through an act of Congress. Legislation has been introduced by U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton and Sen. Cory Gardner. Companion bills have been referred to committee and not received any additional action to date, according to an aide.
If the land transfer goes through, the new parking lot and trailhead are planned for a bend of County Road 20.5 that is adjacent to the proposed monument expansion.
Other public land newsA section of the paved House Creek Road that has been eroding is slated for repair in 2022, said Dolores District Ranger Derek Padilla. Engineering and design will take place in 2020-21. He added that prescribed burns will be implemented this year, with a goal of treating between 6,000 acres and 11,000 acres within the Dolores Ranger District, if conditions allow.A new local Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement Tip Line has been put into operation. The public is encouraged to report natural resource crimes and suspicious activity by calling 833-660-5771, toll free. Tips can also be left by email at TRFOtipline@blm.gov.