The popular Hubbard Mesa off-highway vehicle area northwest of Rifle now has a developed trailhead that could not only make use easier, it might reduce a problem with illegal dumping.
The Bureau of Land Management's Colorado River Valley Field Office oversees the area. Project Manager Greg Wolfgang, an acting supervisory natural resource specialist for the BLM, said Hubbard Mesa was designated an open area in the June 2007 Roan Plateau Management Plan. It is the only designated open area in the field office and offers 2,460 acres with 50 miles of single track, all-terrain vehicle and jeep trails.
"The rest of the Roan planning area is limited to designated routes," Wolfgang said.
Wolfgang said it is considered a high use area primarily for OHVs, but also receives use from mountain bikes, trail runners and horse riders.
"We wanted to provide people a developed area due to the high use it gets," he added.
In the summer of 2010, the BLM constructed an 80,000-square-foot parking and OHV facility at the trailhead for close to $70,000. The improvements allowed parking for six trucks with trailers, 25 trucks with loading and unloading ramps, a ATV training area, and a kid's motocross loop. Basic signing, maps, and visitor use information was also posted. A cattle guard and culvert were installed at the entrance and the facility is fenced to reduce conflicts with grazing on public lands.
Wolfgang said Colorado Parks and Wildlife was consulted in the design to lessen impacts to wildlife. Parks and Wildlife grant money was also used to fund the work, he added.
The second phase, begun late last fall and recently finished, included three open shade structures with picnic tables, a double vault-style restroom and informational kiosks. A motocross track was constructed adjacent to the parking facility. The fenced track is 12 feet wide and includes native soil and existing topography.
The motocross track will let beginners and casual riders develop the technical skills needed for trails in the area. The track will also allow for training courses, such as the ATV safety training course and Motorcycle Safety Institute, Wolfgang said.
The BLM worked with area OHV and off-road groups to finish developing the track, he added.
The project was funded through a $89,000 Colorado Parks and Wildlife grant and a $40,000 BLM challenge cost-share grant.
Part of the reason to make the improvements was to help keep the area cleaner, Wolfgang said. The Hubbard Mesa area has often been used as a place for people to anonymously - and illegally - dump old appliances, furniture and other items.
"We've been getting good buy-in from the OHV groups, so we hope the other users will see these improvements and start to care about the area," Wolfgang added. "We think we're headed in the right direction."
The structures are made of steel and concrete, with double-paned windows in the double-vault toilets to help deter vandalism, he noted.
"I was kind of nervous about that when we started the work a few years ago," Wolfgang said. "But we've had one bullet hole in the last two years."