Pitkin County officials will peer Tuesday at Crystal River Trail draft | PostIndependent.com

Pitkin County officials will peer Tuesday at Crystal River Trail draft

Staff report

The Filoha Meadows open space, about 2 miles north of Redstone, provides habitat for wildlife. Pitkin County staff is recommending avoiding the property with a trail, agreeing with public sentiment.

A draft plan for the Carbondale to Crested Butte trail will receive a first gander today by the Pitkin County commissioners and open space program board of directors.

The meeting will be held from noon to 2 p.m. in the Pitkin County Library. The meeting is not a public hearing but a chance for the open space board and commissioners to give direction to the staff for possible revisions. Once the draft plan is authorized for release, the public will have a chance to comment on it via an online form and at open house meetings.

Today's meeting will be televised on GrassRoots TV and streamed live at pitkincounty.com.

The draft plan is available at http://www.pitkincounty.com/1001/Events-Agendas.

The trail through the Crystal River Valley has been controversial because of widespread opposition from residents in the valley as well as wildlife proponents. Critics contend the trail would infringe on private property and be too disruptive to wildlife in certain areas.

Proponents counter that seasonal closures would mitigate the effects on wildlife. Pitkin County started a study last year and has laid out alignment options with associated engineering costs and effects on wildlife and trail character. It received more than 500 opinions for the initial public comment period.

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Now, the open space staff is taking those comments, the consultants' reports and direction from the commissioners and open space board from a Jan. 16 meeting to create the draft plan. The county is looking at the alignment on 20 sections between BRB Campground, where the current trail stops, and the summit of McClure Pass.

"There are sections that do not have a recommended alignment because further analysis and public process is needed," said a memo from the open space staff.

One recommendation was to keep the trail out of the Filoha Meadows Open Space on the east side of the Crystal River across from Penny Hot Springs. There was widespread public opposition for intruding on that high-quality wildlife habitat.

The staff's suggested goal is to return to the boards with a final draft on April 10, then make presentations and collect public input.

Gunnison County is working on the McClure to Crested Butte segment.