Crestone Eagle, September 2008:
County asked to keep trails near Crestone
by Lisa Cyriacks
Saguache County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has received
a RS 2477 request from citizens to consider the trails up
Spanish Creek and Cottonwood Creek as public accesses to National
Forest lands. This request was presented by Baca resident
and business owner, Bill Folk. The County Commissioners have
decided to schedule a public hearing on this issue for October
20, 9am at the County Courthouse.
The commissioners received a letter and a petition with nearly
70 signatures including leaders from our business community
stating that the trails are being obstructed by “No
Access” signs that transgress on the public’s
right to access. The citizens cited a Resolution 96-G-7 passed
in 1996 by the BOCC that states: “all public roads
that have not been heretofore formally vacated by the BOCC
are designated as public highways”. Public roads are
also defined in this resolution, leaving no need for interpretation,
to include “highways, roads, mining roads, logging roads,
wagon roads, trails, horse trails, hiking trails, and foot
Citing the federal authority for express dedication of public
highways: 43 Use 932, also known as RS 2477; and a 1921 Colorado
law that grants authority of such public highways other than
those maintained as state or federal highways to Saguache
County Commissioners, Resolution 96-G-7 requires that “neither
private nor public tracts of land traversed by these public
routes may be fenced, gated, or otherwise obstructed by any
means whatsoever without the express written consent of the
Board of County Commissioners” nor can these public
routes be “closed to the historic use of public travel
for which they have been utilized without the express written
consent of the Board of County Commissioners”
The citizens’ group “Save Our Trails” has
collected written statements documenting historic use by the
public, and historic maps that show these trails as access
prior to 1976. The group has also documented the important
economic role that these trails leading to 14er (mountains
with summits above 14,000’) access have in our communities.
The Colorado State University extension service conducted
a study in August 2007 determining the loss of revenue experienced
when access to 14ers is closed. The study yielded three significant
1. 14er closure has the potential to significantly impact
2. 14er climbers place a high value on access to the peaks,
spending as much as $336 per person per expedition.
3. Much of this money is spent locally, and it is worthwhile
for local communities to develop creative solutions to ensure
that peaks remain open.
The citizens are requesting quiet, non-motorized uses of
these trails to public land adjacent to the Crestone/Baca
community and that public land users should be educated on
respectful behavior and limitations on use (such as no camping,
no fires, no trash, no bathroom facilities, no parking, etc.).
The request is that these trails remain open as the pack and
hiking trails they were used as historically.
The petition stated, “The mountains are meant to be
free and open access for all—a place to enjoy and experience
wilderness.” In recent master planning meetings (February
and March 2008) the public indicated widespread support for
continuing to provide access to public lands. Ninety per cent
of participants countywide felt it was important to very important
that access to public lands and regional trails be kept open.
In the Crestone/Baca area, ninety-three per cent supported
continued use of existing trailheads and creation of new trailheads
accessing public lands.
If you have questions about this issue or would like more
information, copies of the resolution 96-G-7 (Reception# 316837)
are available at the clerk’s office in the courthouse.
Other relevant information related to this issue can be reviewed
in the Land Use office. Contact Wendi Maez, 655-2321 or email@example.com.
The contact persons for Save Our Trails, if you would like
to support their efforts or sign the petition, are William
Folk, firstname.lastname@example.org or Lisa Cyriacks, email@example.com.
Copies of County Resolution 96-G-7 and other related documents
are also available by contacting Save Our Trails.
The meeting will be held on October 20, 9 am at the Saguache
County Courthouse. This is the opportunity for the public
to express their opinions on this important issue.
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