Future of mountain discussed
Public meets to evaluate recreational options for Emerald
By Kristi Mohrbacher - Steamboat Pilot & Today Newspaper
Saturday, May 31, 2008
The future recreational use of Emerald Mountain is the topic of two upcoming public meetings, from 6 to 8 p.m. July 10 and Aug. 7 at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. Comments and suggestions regarding Emerald Mountain can be sent to consultant Stephen Sellenriek of THK Associates, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steamboat Springs — Its future use is far from finalized, but Emerald Mountain already is drawing crowds.
About 50 people attended a public meeting Thursday night at the Steamboat Springs Community Center to discuss future recreational use of the 4,139-acre parcel of land. The city of Steamboat Springs, the Bureau of Land Management and THK Associates — consultants hired by the BLM and the city to make recommendations about Emerald Mountain — hosted the meeting.
Emerald Mountain was acquired by the BLM in February 2007 through a land exchange that involved the city, the Emerald Mountain Partnership and other partners. A general implementation plan was adopted in June 2007 that set basic guidelines for the recreational use of the mountain.
“Getting public input is what this whole process is all about,” said Craig Robinson, the open space supervisor for the city.
Emerald Mountain is divided into two zones. Zone 1 is geared toward more strenuous activities, including mountain biking and Nordic skiing. Zone 2 is for wildlife viewing, hiking and similar, less strenuous activities.
“Tonight, I heard that there are people who would like to see some sort of loop system or loop trail developed,” Robinson said.
For a loop trail to be constructed, the boundary between the two zones would have to be adjusted. Gina Robison, outdoor recreation planner for the BLM’s Little Snake Office, says the process of moving the boundary “shouldn’t be too difficult,” though she wasn’t sure of the exact steps to do it.
“There are folks who feel that preserving the area for wildlife, which is one of the priority goals, is important, and that a loop trail has potential impacts,” Robinson said.
Since the acquisition of Emerald Mountain, Robison said the BLM has completed Phase 1 of Ridge Trail, a trail that runs along the northern end of the parcel. “We are hoping to complete Ridge Trail this year,” said John Husband, field manager for the BLM’s Little Snake Office. The process includes rerouting the trail around steep areas with a grade of more than 10 percent for sustainability purposes.
As far as a timeline for completion of the entire project, “we think it’ll be 5 to 10 years before it’s completed,” Robison said. “There’s just so much to do.”
Public meetings are planned for July 10 and Aug. 7. Stephen Sellenriek, senior planner for THK, said the consultants plan to further define the implementation plan and get a better idea of the existing trails on Emerald Mountain before the next meeting.
“Right now, this is a big-picture view,” Sellenriek said. “This is not about nuts and bolts.”
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