Archive | March, 2013

Recreation Enthusiasts Applaud Rico West Dolores Decisions

March 25, 2013


Contact: Paul Turcke
Phone: (208) 331-1800



DENVER, CO (March 25, 2013) — Multiple use trail users praised a federal court decision rejecting an effort by anti-access preservationists to close 14 southwestern Colorado trails to motorcycle use.  The decision was issued Friday, March 22, by Chief U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger in a lawsuit brought in early 2012 by the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Colorado Chapter against the U.S. Forest Service.

The trails in dispute were prized single track like the Calico Trail which have been treasured routes for decades to a broad spectrum of users, including motorcycle riders. The trails are found in what is known as the Rico West Dolores area of the San Juan National Forest.

A number of other interests weighed in during the suit.  Supporting the agency as defendant-intervenors were the Telluride and Durango based Public Access Preservation Association and the San Juan Trail Riders, along with the Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition, the Trails Preservation Alliance and the BlueRibbon Coalition (“Recreation Groups”).

“We are pleased by not only the outcome but the Court’s solid legal analysis and common sense,” stated Paul Turcke, counsel for the Recreation Groups.  “The Court properly understood that the plaintiff here was aggressively trying to use a Forest Service decision eliminating cross-country motorized travel as a weapon to impose a narrow preservationist view on the much broader spectrum of users who enjoy these trails,” Turcke observed.

Others supported the plaintiff by filing “friend of the court” briefs, including San Juan Citizens Alliance, and a group including the Town of Rico and Dunton Hot Springs, LLC represented by the resort’s lawyer. Dunton’s filings complained about continuing motorcycle use, while boasting of continuing recognition as a top 10 worldwide “wilderness” resort by authorities like Conde Nast.

The plaintiff sought a preliminary injunction in the early stages of the case, contending that irreparable harm would occur to wildlife and other resources in the vicinity of the trails.  Their motion asked the Court to immediately close the trails upon snowmelt in early June, 2012.  The Court was unpersuaded by these claims, and — in a May, 2012 telephonic hearing — combined the preliminary injunction motion with the merits, directed the parties to fully brief the case, and ultimately rendered its decision without further argument.

Gary Wilkinson with the San Juan Trail Riders said; “Perhaps this decision will allow trail users to work more closely together as an alternative to litigation.  These trails have been enjoyed by motorized and non-motorized enthusiasts for decades, and hunting should not be the excuse to drive a wedge between Colorado’s trail users.  Both hunters and trail users need to unite against radical critics and work together for active and effective management,” Wilkinson concluded.
A copy of the Court’s decision may be viewed HERE.

PAPA is a regional recreation group that supports and champions access and responsible use of public lands, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. PAPA’s Mission is to promote balanced, unbiased, responsible use of public lands in collaboration with recreational users of all interests, advocating respect, education and conservation of the environment. Learn more on the web:

The mission of the SJTR is to improve opportunities for off-highway vehicles and assure the best care of the land. SJTR promotes active participation in OHV trail management and other civic activities and maintains a focused and ongoing dialogue with the San Juan National Forest and other public land planners. SJTR educates OHV users about “Tread Lightly” conservation practices and other trail use issues. Learn more on the web:

The Trails Preservation Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the sport of motorized trail riding, educating all user groups and the public on the value of sharing public lands for multiuse recreation, while protecting public lands for future generations. Learn more on the web:

COHVCO is a nonprofit organization whose member enthusiasts, organizations and businesses collectively comprise over 200,000 Coloradoans and regular visitors to Colorado and other western states who contribute millions of dollars and thousands of hours annually to off-highway vehicle recreation through registration fees, retail expenditure, project participation and related support. Learn more on the web:

The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists. 1-800-BlueRib






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Off-road advocate says BLM closure plan flawed

March 24, 2013
Off-road advocate says BLM closure plan flawed
Agency undervalues recreational spending, organization chairman tells Club 20 session  

From The Daily Sentinel
Grand Junction, Colorado
(Reprinted with permission)


The Bureau of Land Management is sharply underestimating the value of recreation on its lands in western Colorado, according to a motorized vehicle advocate who is concerned about its proposals to significantly reduce travel routes in the region.   Scott Jones, chairman of the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, said Saturday during Club 20’s spring meeting that the agency is proposing to close about 4,500 miles of its routes, or 50 to 70 percent of the total, in its Grand Junction, Colorado River Valley and Kremmling field office draft management plans. Those plans cover about 2 million acres in total.   “It’s a pretty significant part of the state that we’re talking about,” he said.   He questions the economic analysis that is contributing to what he says are “kind of scary” proposals by the agency.   The Grand Junction plan estimates average daily recreational spending of $10.17 per user day related to its acreage. That compares to an estimated average of $62 per day that the Forest Service has calculated for its visitors in Colorado, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife has said in-state hunters spend an average of $106 per day, he said.   “Ten dollars. I can’t even get a sandwich and a couple of sports drinks for that,” said Jones, who said the Colorado River Valley office arrived at average spending of $16.27 per day, and Kremmling, $15.66. “As you can see there’s some valuation concerns,” he said. 

photo: Brad Guth, of Grand Junction, rides his all-terrain vehicle in the desert north of Grand Junction on land administered by the Bureau of Land Management. During the spring Club 20 meeting Saturday at Colorado Mesa University, a BLM official acknowledged public concern over the agency’s proposal to close some off-road vehicle routes in three management areas on the Western Slope.  

The Grand Junction plan projects total recreational spending of just $7.2 million on local BLM lands by 2029, whereas Colorado Parks and Wildlife says hunting and fishing alone already account for almost $130 million in spending in Mesa and Garfield counties, he said.   The BLM completely excludes local spending from its Grand Junction analysis, and attributes only 90 jobs in the area to its recreation opportunities, when Cabela’s alone employs more people than that, he said.  
Katie Stevens, manager of the Grand Junction Field Office, acknowledged in her own Club 20 presentation that a lot of people have raised concerns about the economic analysis in the plan.   “We’ll consider whether we need to do some additional economic analysis there,” she said.   She said she recognizes the potential for local BLM lands to be a regional and even international draw. “We get that, we know that we have that opportunity, and we’ve been that (draw) for some of our recreational uses in the past,” she said.   In an interview, Stevens said recreational economic impacts are more complex to measure than things such as grazing and oil and gas drilling. Although she thinks the BLM can provide more clarity on the basis of its analysis, “the type of cost-benefit analysis that we are directed to do with these plans doesn’t get at some of the economic benefits of outdoor recreation as an industry that I would like,” she said.   She said she could see value in doing a study that incorporates all local public land, including national forests and Colorado National Monument, and considers things such as Fruita’s draw as a mountain biking destination and even people choosing to work in the area because of the outdoor recreation that it offers.   Jones said activities such as hunting, camping and motorized vehicle use result in two to three times as much spending as other uses.   “If we’re going to drive the economy why don’t we go after the people who are spending the money?” he said.   The Grand Junction Field Office is considering keeping open about half of its roads with current legal access. It’s looking at the possibility of closures in cases such as when multiple roads go the same place, or when there are significant wildlife, safety, water quality or other concerns.   She said the agency also has concerns about the high density of roads in places such as the North Fruita Desert and Gateway. The Gateway roads stem from a long history of uranium development.  
“We want to talk with the public about which of those roads are important for recreation and access,” she said.   Some BLM roads and trails were developed by users, without agency planning. Stevens said the goal of the travel portion of the field office’s resource management planning process is to transition to a recognized system that can be maintained into the future. Once the basic framework of what routes are good enough to keep has been established, then the agency can look at what ones will be needed in the future, she said.   The agency is continuing to take public comments on its Grand Junction draft plan. 






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