From Darkness To Light

16 Mar 2017

Trails 2000’s winter snow grooming proposal for trails in Horse Gulch rejected by city board

Posted by Adam Howell

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A proposal from Trails 2000 to groom the snow on trails in Horse Gulch 3 to 4 times a winter was officially quashed by the Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board on Monday.

Specifically, Trails 2000’s Executive Director Mary Monroe Brown asked for permission to groom Horse Gulch Road, Meadow Loop and Stacy’s Loop with a snowmobile during snowy winter months for fate bikers, hikers and skiers.

This is what the snow machine with the tow-behind groomer looks like.

This is what the snow machine with the tow-behind groomer looks like.

Yet the possibility that a snowmobile dragging a groom roller would have impacts to wildlife was cited as reasons to reject the idea for Wildlife Biologist and Board Member Steve Whitemen.

Board Ex-officio/CPW Wildlife Biologist Steve McClung talked about the multitude of deer and elk that congregate in Horse Gulch every winter. He said that other CPW officials have seen these animals while they’re doing wildlife surveys some time in December or January.

Board Member Michael Burke was also against the grooming proposal, and said that grooming the snow would create a hard-surface trail. Trails 2000’s Executive Director Mary Monroe Brown disagreed, calling the trail a soft-surface trail.

Board Member Susan Ulery was also against the snow grooming proposal.

Board Member Mark Smith was in favor of the grooming, as was this blogger.

Given the likelihood that winter time grooming would increase traffic to Horse Gulch, Smith said that deer would not be scared of people.

I gave concerns about my perception that a pattern of trail proposals that might increase human traffic were most likely to be voted down by the board due to concerns from wildlife biologists at those meetings.

Smith also questioned why Steve McClung was concerned about deer and elk in Horse Gulch, given that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife agency that McClung works for sells cow elk hunting permits for private land for September through January.

“That’s not my district, so I don’t know all the ins and outs of that policy,” said McClung.

This blogger is an alternate and did not get to vote on this issue due to the quorum of other voting board members at the meeting.

In other Board news, the electric bike subcommittee managed to get two soft-surface commuter trails into their latest report of suggested routes for the City to allow ebikes to travel on.

Chris Paulson gave public comment on the dangers of the subcommittee’s desire to allow ebikes on the Animas River Trail, while showing the Board a picture of an electric tricycle. Paulson says that the Animas River Trail is already too congested with traffic from spandex-clad bikers, walkers, runners and skateboarders.

The City of Durango is accepting public comments on the Ebike Subcommittee recommendations, which you can read here as a PDF.

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