Do you support more trails, better parking and roads, or have specific concerns about e-bikes, archaeological sites or wildlife on local Bureau of Land Management Lands?
Now is the chance to comment.
The BLM’s Tres Rios Field office, based in Dolores, wants public input on a transportation and access management plan for 100,000 acres of public lands that stretch across Montezuma, La Plata and Archuleta counties. A draft environmental assessment analyzes a proposal to designate a network of roads and trails for a long-term management plan. The plan’s preferred alternative shows 13 miles of new trails and new parking areas, and considers expanding e-bike use on bicycle trails as part of a recent executive order from the Department of Interior secretary.
“Recreation and public land access are important to the community, and we want the community involved in the planning,” said Tres Rios Field Manager Connie Clementson. “Public input is essential for designing a travel system that provides appropriate access to and across public lands for recreation and other uses.”
Comments will be accepted through Monday and can be submitted through the BLM ePlanning site at https://go.usa.gov/xE6ZU or via mail to the BLM Tres Rios Field Office, Attn. Keith Fox, 29211 Highway 184, Dolores, CO, 81323. The draft EA and associated maps are available on the ePlanning site and at the Tres Rios field office.
The transportation plan does not consider existing or proposed routes in the Phil’s World area east of Cortez, which fall under another project-specific plan.
Mud SpringsNew or improved parking areas are proposed for a new Mud Springs OHV area, at Montezuma County Road 34 to access the Chutes and Ladders trails system, at Montezuma County Road 41 to access Weber and Menefee mountains, and at Montezuma County Road 39 northwest of Mancos to access the Aqueduct area.
The Mud Springs proposal includes a 4.5-acre motorized “play area” for OHV day use only. The land was formerly a gravel mine and is currently undergoing reclamation. Elsewhere at Mud Springs, the proposed action includes the closure of two motorized routes because of harm to archaeological sites, and the rerouting of two nonmotorized routes.
Aqueduct areaAt Aqueduct northwest of Mancos, the BLM proposes 14 miles of new non-motorized trails mapped in conjunction with the Mancos Trails Group. The proposed stacked loop-trail system would be accessed from a new parking lot off Road 39. There would be a seasonal wildlife closure from Dec. 1 to April 30.
Chutes and LaddersAt Chutes and Ladders, a BLM area north of Mesa Verde National Park, the proposed action includes a new trailhead and parking area, and a new trail connecting the parking area and existing trail. A mile-long section of non-motorized trail would be closed to improve habitat conditions for deer and elk. The new parking area will improve access for equestrian users.
To better manage camping in the area, 12 spur routes are proposed for designation.
“These spur routes better manage camping in this popular area by directing the public to known locations and limiting dispersed camping,” the report says.
Animas City MountainThe proposed action includes reroutes and new trails to protect big-game winter ranges and reduce user conflicts. The plan would include a new two-mile western rim trail. Three existing trails on the eastern rim would be combined into a single trail. There would also be two new interior crossing trails that would provide loop opportunities. The new trails are designed to replace the Vulture and Sickbird trails below the mesa top. Recreation use is focused on the mesa top to reduce disturbance to wildlife below the rim where there is critical big-game habitat.
To separate recreation users, a new downhill bicycle-only trail would be constructed in the western interior.
Perins PeakThe primary plan for this area under the preferred alternative involves a public education effort to enforce the no-bicycle-use rule and seasonal timing restrictions on BLM sections of the Hogsback Trail, Perins Gulch (Slime Gulch) Trail and Perins Ridge Trail.
Rabbit MountainImproved parking is proposed for Rabbit Mountain near Bayfield.
E-bike managementA new federal policy intends to open access to electric bicycles on traditional biking trails within BLM lands, according to a recent order from Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
E-bikes had been legally categorized as motorized by the BLM, and therefore, not allowed on non-motorized routes. But the Interior secretary’s order now requires them to be made exempt from the definition of motorized vehicles, giving them access to trails where bicycles are allowed.
To accommodate the order, e-bike use is incorporated into the BLM’s proposed action of the Tres Rios District Transportation and Access analysis, Clementson said. The plan states that Class 1 e-bikes would be allowed on trails designated for bicycles. Under a modified version of the proposed action, Class 2 and 3 e-bikes would also be allowed on these trails.
Class 1 is an e-bike with an electric motor assist while pedaling up to 20 mph. Class 2 is an e-bike with an electric motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle with a throttle and ceases to provide assistance when the speed reaches 20 mph. Class 3 is an e-bike with an electric motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling up to 28 mph.