New nonmotorized and motorized trails are proposed for the Rico area by the San Juan National Forest.
The Dolores Ranger District is requesting written public comment on the plan as part of a scoping process in advance of an environmental assessment.
“Rico has been looking for nonmotorized trails with good access to town that would connect to a larger loop trail system,” said Tom Rice, recreation planner for the Dolores District.
The new motorized Spring Creek Trail route provides motorcycle access between Stoner and Taylor Mesas, and helps to make up for routes lost in the recent Rico-West Dolores travel management plan, he said.
The proposed action consists of the following trail projects.
Spring Creek TrailThe Spring Creek Trail relocation consist of 3.4 miles of new motorized single track and 2.7 miles of existing motorized single track. The proposed trail would replace the existing Spring Creek Trail (Forest Service Route 627), which was designated as nonmotorized in the Rico West Dolores travel decision.
The previously designated nonmotorized trail in the bottom of the Spring Creek drainage would be decommissioned and the new trail would be constructed and maintained in an adjacent ridge top location. The recreation routes in Spring Creek are being moved to protect sensitive fishery habitat.
A segment of the Stoner Creek Trail would be changed from single track nonmotorized to single track motorized to provide a motorized connection from Taylor Mesa to Stoner Mesa. The proposed trail would require 3.4 miles of new construction and minor trail improvement and maintenance to 2.7 miles of designated single-track motorized trail.
Circle TrailThis is an existing Forest Service trail that is a popular nonmotorized connection between Rico and the Black Hawk section of the Colorado Trail. The 2.55-mile trail off a rough road in Silver Creek drainage would be designated for nonmotorized use. As an existing trail, the proposed route would only require limited trail work for improvement to meet U.S. Forest Service trail standards.
Rio Grande Southern TrailThe proposed Rio Grande Southern Trail would provide connection from Rico to the existing Scotch Creek trailhead and Salt Creek/Ryman trailhead.
The trail would generally follow the alignment of the former Rio Grande Southern rail line, parallel to and west of the Dolores River. A bridge crossing over the river is proposed to provide access to Scotch Creek trailhead. The existing Montelores Bridge would provide access to the Salt Creek/Ryman trailhead. The proposed trail would be 4.32 miles in length.
Lower Ryman TrailTwo trail reroutes are proposed for the existing nonmotorized Lower Ryman Trail to provide a more sustainable route. The total length of the proposed reroutes would be 2.46 miles.
The Dolores Ranger District has coordinated with the Rico Trails Alliance and the San Juan Trail Riders, an off-highway vehicle group, regarding new trails and modifications to existing trail alignments in the Rico area.
The construction schedule for the proposed trails would be determined after the environmental analysis is complete. The proposed trails would be built mainly with hand tools for brush removal and creating dirt tracks, as well as mini-dozers or excavators where resource conditions allow. For areas with large obstacles such as trees or boulders, chain saws or heavy equipment may be utilized.
Comment processThis is the public’s opportunity to provide ideas, identify issues, develop approaches and formulate design features that may be incorporated into the proposed action. Substantive comments are defined to be comments that are within the scope of, and specific to, the project and have a direct relationship to the proposed action.
How to reply
The Dolores Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest requests your written comments during this scoping period. The 30-day scoping period is from Sept. 6 to Oct. 7. Comments may be submitted via the project web page: use the “Comment/Object on Project” tab on the project web site: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=56748.
Written comments can also be submitted by mail to:
San Juan National Forest - Dolores Ranger District, Attention: Tom Rice, 29211 Colorado Highway 184, Dolores, CO 81323.
You may also hand-deliver your comments to the above address during normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays.
Comments received, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be part of the public record. The information will be available for public inspection and will be released if requested under the Freedom of Information Act.
For additional information about the project, contact Tom Rice, Recreation Staff Officer, at 970 882-6843; or email [email protected]