Keeping Up With News from the Forest
As the busy summer season begins to wind down, many locals who finally had a chance to get out and enjoy their own backyard have been inquiring about several situations happening in the woods near Leadville Today (LT). So it’s time for a roundup report about various US Forest Service projects in place, as some start to play out on the ground, while others get the stall, and still others seem to be flying under the radar of many Lake County residents.
Motoring Through The Woods
It was recently brought to LT’s attention that the Pike and San Isabel National Forests and Comanche and Cimarron National Grasslands officials are currently working toward the release of the Public Motor Vehicle Use Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Once the official review process has been completed and the DEIS is finalized, the Notice of Availability will publish in the Federal Register. Its publication initiates a 45-day comment period which all interested or affected parties can provide comments. Comments will support the Forest Officials in designating a minimum system of roads, trails, and areas for motor vehicle use by class of use, vehicle type, and time of year.
In other words, if you do business in the woods, run tours in the forest or enjoy going out in your Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV), you may want to pay attention to when and where these upcoming meetings are happening or where you can weigh-in online. Project timelines have recently shifted and are “subject to change,” according to forest officials who recently sent out media advisories stating they will update their project webpage with the announcement of the public comment period. LT has been keeping an eye on it and will let readers know, but as of this post no dates have been set for any of the locations, the closest to Leadville being in Salida, then Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver.
Most area users don’t believe that there will be much, if any, changes made to the 2016 designations which are currently in place. However, with the USFS’s recent shift in approach to the management of many of these surrounding public lands and with the revolving Leadville Ranger leadership, Lake County residents should be paying attention to what’s happening in the nearby woods. Because the “mitigation” work being done out at Turquoise Lake that has shocked many locals could be just the tip of the iceberg as the forest service’s long-range strategic plans start to play out on the ground.
After digging around the USFS website, LT was able to find this Motor Vehicle Use Map which “identifies those roads, trails, and areas designated for motor vehicle use under 36 CFR 212.51 for the purpose of enforcing the prohibition at 36 CFR 261.13. This is a limited purpose. The other public roads are shown for information and navigation purposes only and are not subject to designation under the Forest Service travel management regulation. These designations apply only to National Forest System roads, National Forest System trails, and areas on National Forest System lands.”
Other USFS Projects
As one of the busiest tourist seasons begins to wind down, concerns about the conditions of dispersed campgrounds in Lake County that are managed by the USFS grows. The conversation caught some wind again this past Labor Day weekend, as LT reported on the Lake Fork Creek rehabilitation project which kicks off near Leadville Today. And if the concerns about areas below the Sugar Loaf Dam are growing, the Halfmoon Creek camping area a bit further south has been considered a public safety concern for years. But as reported on the USFS website has officially moved the “Halfmoon Dispersed Campsite Designation” project into the “On Hold” category.
In other Forest service news, three of the projects that Lake County has under review for the scoping period have not been decided on although all three are past the required 45-day comment period. Here are those projects:
- Turquoise Lake Bike Trails
- Tennessee Pass Nordic Center Snowmobile Access Route
- Lake County BOCC Water Transmission Pipeline SUA
That’s what LT knows so far, but as usual, these stories unfold as the conversation moves along. If you have something to add, please contact the LT staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holes Have to Be Filled By Oct. 1
Last week, Lake County Public Works distributed a notice to all contractors with open permits in Lake County. According to Director Brad Palmer, on October 1, no new excavations will be allowed. Also, all open excavations need to be in the process of backfilling and asphalt replacement operations. All roads will be sealed for snow plowing operation by the county. All exactions need to be inspected & approved by Lake County.
The notice also stated that the only excavations that will be allowed between October 1 and May 1 will be emergency excavations as determined by Lake County Public Works. Most of the concerns surround the Sitewise excavations being done on behalf of the Xcel Energy upgrade being done in the West Park neighborhood.
“The work needs to be done the holes closed up and the streets put back in order by the time the snow flies,” said Palmer. Anyone with questions can contact Public works directly at 719-486-0259.