A new motorized route is being proposed for the Sage Hen area of the San Juan National Forest that would connect Montezuma County Road X to McPhee Dam.
The Sage Hen area is on the west side of McPhee Reservoir and is nonmotorized.
The proposal is to designate one motorized route on a 4.75-mile existing historic road that travels north-south across a mesa and switchbacks down to the Dolores River. It would accommodate motorcycles and off-highway vehicles 62 inches in width and narrower.
Montezuma County officials have been advocating for the one motorized access route across Sage Hen to provide a connector link to the Rim Rocker Trail, a 160-mile OHV route from Montrose to Moab, Utah.
Access beyond the proposed Sage Hen Motorized Trail would use existing San Juan National Forest Service roads that link to Bureau of Land Management or county roads.
The proposed Sage Hen Motorized Trail also would accommodate administrative use by the Bureau of Reclamation, Dolores Water Conservancy District and the Western Area Power Administration to access the McPhee Dam complex.
In a related action, the SJNF is considering implementation of seasonal public access limitations for big game habitat management in the Sage Hen-McPhee area. The proposed limitation would close the Sage Hen area to public access from Dec. 1 to April 30, which is the seasonal limitation for elk and mule deer critical winter range, severe winter range and winter concentration areas specified in San Juan National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.
Preliminary issues identified for the proposal include impacts to recreational uses in an area currently managed for nonmotorized use; impacts to popular big game hunting area; impacts to archaeological resources, cumulative impacts of additional OHV use on Forest Service roads; and analysis of timing restrictions and seasonal uses.
Draft designs and mitigation elements include: a motorized season of use from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and construction of physical barriers to limit motorized travel off of the proposed trails. Materials would be provided in coordination with Montezuma County.
The Dolores Ranger District is requesting written public comment on the plan, as part of a scoping process in advance of an environmental assessment.
The Dolores Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest is requesting written comments during this scoping period. The 30-day scoping period is from Sept. 6 to Oct. 7, 2019. 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=56766 Written comments can also be submitted via 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.