Public comment on ATVs in Pitkin County taken today at library
If you have an opinion about the use of all-terrain vehicles on backcountry Pitkin County roads, today is the day to make it known.
Pitkin County will host an open house at the Pitkin County Library’s community room from 4-6 p.m. today during which the public can stop by and comment on the formation of a management plan for the unlicensed, off-highway vehicles.
Unlicensed all-terrain vehicles do not include off-road motorcycles, which are generally licensed.
State law prohibits unlicensed ATVs from operating on county roads, though it generally hasn’t been an issue until recently, so the law historically hasn’t been enforced, officials have said. Now that ATVs are becoming a more popular way for people to access the backcountry, the county is addressing the subject.
County officials want the public to comment on four different scenarios.
The first is to do nothing and keep county roads free of ATVs.
The second is to open four roads currently co-claimed by both Pitkin County and the U.S. Forest Service, to ATVs. Those roads include Bear Creek Road in the Woody Creek area, as well as Seller Lake Road, Deimer Lake Road and Powerline Road in the Fryingpan drainage.
The third option would open 86 miles of county roads to ATVs, including the Pitkin County portion of Pearl Pass Road, more roads in the Fryingpan area and some in the Prince Creek/Dinkle Lake area.
Finally, the fourth option would open all county roads with less than 100 vehicle trips per day to ATVs. That option includes opening the backside of Aspen Mountain to the vehicles.
The comment period — which will run through April 7 — has been open for a week and a half now, said Pat Bingham, Pitkin County spokesperson.
“We’ve got a really robust response,” Bingham said Tuesday.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the fourth scenario had garnered the most support — nearly 70 percent — from people who have commented so far, according to the Pitkin County Connect website. The next most popular scenario was the first scenario, which 25 percent of commenters supported, according to the website.
Those who cannot make the open house today can go to pitkincountyconnect and comment there.
In 2012, the White River National Forest introduced a travel management plan that took seven years of work, Rich Doak, the forest’s recreation and lands officer, said earlier this month. Previously, the Forest Service allowed ATVs to operate on most roads in the forest, he said.
The new plan allows ATVs to operate on 74 percent of the forest’s 1,396 roads, Doak said. Conversely, less than 2 percent of forest users ride ATVs, he said. The top three user groups include hikers, bikers and those who enjoy viewing natural resources, Doak said.
Compared to other counties located within the White River National Forest, Pitkin County provides a bit of an oasis from ATV use, Karen Schroyer, district ranger for the Aspen-Sopris district of the forest, said earlier this month. She said she’d like to keep it that way.
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