New Castle, BLM take first steps on trail project
As the population of New Castle continues to increase so do the recreational needs of the town citizens.To help meet those needs, local citizens, the town of New Castle and the Bureau of Land Management are joining together to create a small trails system for walking and biking north of New Castle adjacent to the Castle Valley Ranch subdivision. “Public lands around New Castle provide an important `close to home’ recreation amenity for local residents,” explained Brian Hopkins, local BLM planner. “The need to preserve the unique recreational and aesthetic values and to address the associated impacts of unmanaged recreational use has accelerated as the town’s population grows.” The proposed trail system will include a more than two-mile loop with several access points. The trail will start from near the New Castle water tank and extend into public BLM land. In addition, the proposal includes a more than one-mile spur to an overlook at 6,615 feet.New Castle Town Manager Steve Rippy said he is pleased that the trails project is moving forward, since it has been a longtime goal of city leaders. “The town is very excited to be working with the trails project to create a very worthwhile addition to the community,” Rippy said. “The addition of this new trail is an important step toward creating recreational opportunities for the citizens of New Castle.” The town has agreed to donate the $1,000 necessary to fund a cultural review of the trails area, which is part of a federally required environmental assessment. Hopkins said the project is similar to the successful Red Hill project in Carbondale, where citizens worked together with the BLM to create an improved public trail system. “This is a great community project, and the scale is good,” Hopkins said. He noted that the trail could include a seasonal closure to minimize impact on the wintering wildlife habitat area. The new trails also will direct walkers and bikers and reduce the proliferation of “social” or unwanted trails.The developers of the nearby upscale Lakota Canyon Ranch project also plan to tie in residential trail access points. Working under the auspices of the town’s master planning Parks, Open Space & Trails Committee, the trails group welcomes input and citizen participation.Citizens also are encouraged to suggest names for the trails.Interested citizens can attend the next meeting of the trails committee at 7 p.m. April 8 at New Castle Town Hall. An official 30-day public comment period about the trails project will take place in May. The Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers will assist with a public trail work day Sept. 20.For questions, contact Steve Rippy at 984-2311 or citizen volunteers Suzie Romig at 984-0502 or Kevin O’Brien at 984-3418.
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