Permits Not Secured for Races, Opinions Sought
By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today
When it comes to the Leadville Race Series, there aren’t too many locals – or racers – who have a neutral, take-it-or-leave it attitude. The opinions range from the overtly enthusiastic “this race changed my life,” to civic leaders who are on-the-record as stating “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
On the other side of the coin, residents continue to express concerns that the races have grown too big, have too much impact on local services, or Leadville residents who simply “want our town back for the summer.”
Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, here’s your chance to express your opinion, with the folks who actually hold the keys: The U.S. Forest Service. As of now, according to a letter issued by Leadville District Ranger Tamara Conner, the race series does not have a formal contract in place, allowing them to use the land that the iconic courses are held on. In fact, should the permit be issued at all, it would not be granted to the Leadville Race Series (LRS).
Back in September 2015, the LRS’s 5-year contract with the Forest Service expired. And while the organization continues to solicit race registration and monies from athletes, they do not have a legal contract in place with the forest service to actually hold the races. And, it doesn’t appear, that LRS is actually the entity applying for the permit. According to documentation obtained by Leadville Today, the applicant for the permits has shifted to the “Lifetime Fitness Triathlon Series,” formerly known as the “Leadville 100 Race Series.”
Additional documentation records that the added “Leadville Stage Race” from last season was issued a temporary permit, allowing the last minute “addition” to be thrown into the racing mix at the 11th hour albeit without a traditional public comment period.
So here’s your chance to let your opinion – good, bad or ugly – be heard by the agency holding the keys. The deadline for comment is February 9, 2016, with a decision anticipated in April 2016. Here’s the official statement from the Forest Service:
The Leadville Ranger District of the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands (PSICC) is conducting an analysis pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to renew the LTF Triathlon Series (formerly Leadville 100 Race Series) permit and seeking public comments is part of the process. This opportunity to comment provides the public an opportunity to provide meaningful input prior to the decision on projects and activities related to implementing land and resource management plans.
At this stage, the Leadville Ranger District is proposing to administratively combine the two permits into one to be issued to the “Lifetime Fitness Triathlon Series.” The documentation states “These changes would include a new 5-year permit that combines all 5 events into one permit, new permit expiration date, a fee schedule to reflect current income figures and updated operating plans to include safety, medical and traffic control measures.”
It’s also worth noting that while the application process does require the applicant to list the official number of race participants, it does not address the additional impact to forest service land by support crew, fans, media and family who are out on the course as part of the event.
So here’s your chance to weigh in with the officials that hold the keys, the U.S Forest Service: “Caring for the Land and Serving the People.”
To have your opinion heard contact David Lovato at 719-486-7416 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.