The proposed action for Rico-West Dolores travel management plan has some changes for motorized and non-motorized recreation in the San Juan National Forest.
The area affected is north of Dolores and includes forest land on both sides of the Dolores River, lands surrounding Rico, the West Fork of the Dolores River, the Dunton Resort area, and the Groundhog area.
In an interview, Dolores District Ranger Derek Padilla outlined major changes.
Bear Creek trail: A four-mile portion of the trail, beginning at the Morrison trail junction, would be closed to motorized vehicles.
The short section from the Bear Creek trailhead to the Morrison trailhead would remain open to single-track motorized to provide access.
Morrison trail: The trail would be changed to single-track motorized, from non-motorized.
Rico: The Burnett and Horse Creek trails would close to motorized vehicles. Burnett begins at the end of FS 422. Horse Creek begins at the end of FS 423 north of Rico.
“Rico’s requested that trails around town be for quiet uses,” Padilla said.
Winter trail: Would be closed to motorized vehicles. The trail begins at the northern end of the Calico Trail. A re-route of the trail goes around the private Dunton Resort and connects to the West Fork Road.
Ryman Creek trail: Would be closed to motorized vehicles. The plan calls for the upper loop trail of Ryman to permanently closed to all users to accommodate for wildlife.
Wildcat trail: is proposed for closure to motorized. The trail travels between CO. 145 and the Calico Trail.
Rio Grande Southern No. trail: Would be designated non-motorized. This fisherman’s trail is along the west side of the Dolores River from Ryman Creek to Rico, connecting to FS 422.
Proposed changes include seasonal closures for single-track motorcycle trails.
Single-track trails designated for motorcycle use across the Rico-West Dolores planning area will be open to motorcycle use from July 1 to Sept. 8 and closed from Sept. 9 through June 30. This eliminates the overlap of motorcycle use with big-game hunting seasons and eliminates overlapping motorcycle use with big-game calving season in the spring.
“There are issues with having a successful hunt when motorized is allowed,” Padilla said. “The game is pushed out, and that impacts the hunter experience.”
The seasonal single-track motorized closure is designed to avoid Labor Day and July 4 holidays.
Also new is allowing for larger off-highway vehicles, known as side-by-sides, on some motorized routes. For certain OHV routes, the width limit will go to 62 inches from 50 inches.
The OHV designation applies to Barlow OHV (off the Barlow Creek Road), Willow Divide (off the West Fork), Expectation (Rico), and the Taylor OHV.
The proposals are starting points for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for the travel-management plan.
During the initial “scoping” phase, the Forest Service works with the public to identify issues that could result in alternatives to the proposed actions.
The proposals are at www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php?project=44918
The comment period ends Jan. 30. The proposal and an electronic comment form can be found at http://www.fs.usda.gov/projects/sanjuan/landmanagement/projects
On Jan. 15, the Forest Service will host an open house from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Dolores Community Center.
After alternatives are developed, there will be another formal comment period. Comments can also be sent via mail to Deborah Kill or Derek Padilla at Dolores Public Land Office, 29211 Hwy. 184, Dolores, CO 81323