ATVs comment period ends Aug 16th for the Chaffee Cnty & - Mountain Buzz

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Old 08-03-2005   #1
Join Date: Jun 2004
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ATVs comment period ends Aug 16th for the Chaffee Cnty &

Check Google for Chaffee County OHV
Here's a letter we sent;
Jim Osborne
Jerry Mallett
Tim Glenn
Chaffee County Commissioners
P.O. Box 699
Salida, CO 81201
FAX (719) 539-7442

Dear Sirs:

We are writing to provide comments on the proposal you are considering to expand use of All-Terrain Vehicles on specified County Roads, including roads such as CR 371 from Buena Vista to Railroad Bridge

We and our friends are whitewater kayakers, beginning mountainbike riders and winter snowshoe-ers and campers who really enjoy spending time in Chaffee County. We visit you regularly from Denver, and have been doing so since 1991. We spend money at your restaurants, your grocery stores, the hiking/bicycling stores, your kayak stores, your coffee shops, bakeries, farmers’ markets, whitewater photography shops, and gas stations. We say this because of testimony at your last Commissioners’ meeting by OHV enthusiasts that people like us don’t pay taxes and OHV drivers do. We support many of your local businesses, we purchase an annual Colorado State Parks Pass every year for two vehicles, and we buy a five year Colorado Search and Rescue permit. We pay gas taxes, too.

We visit your county in part because we can enjoy many outdoor sports without having to be around all-terrain vehicles. All-terrain vehicles use roads and public lands in areas where we don’t go.

We visit your county in part because it’s quiet. We camp out to enjoy the sounds of birds and wildlife and get an undisturbed night’s sleep. We have been most appreciative of the fact that you have generally separated the quiet recreationalists from the louder ones – we think this is a great approach that limits conflicts and enhances the enjoyment of all. Allowing all-terrain vehicles on the County roads which you have proposed will reverse that laudable planning and cause significant conflicts due to noise and safety. Conflicts between cross country skiers and snowmobilers are a well- publicized fact and this is a similar situation with ATVs. Combining the two groups in the same area doesn’t work well for either group.

Joggers, bicycles and cars with properly working mufflers are much quieter than all-terrain vehicles, especially when the ATVs are souped up or have had their mufflers removed to enhance performance. Please keep in mind that sound levels are logarithmic – in other words a 10 decibel increase in sound is a doubling of the sound level. Perhaps you should ask for documentation on the sound levels of ATVs with and without mufflers to help guide your decision?

We travel on these dirt roads by vehicle and by bicycle. We feel safe traveling on your County roads because drivers are generally courteous, yield the right of way and travel at safe speeds, especially on the dirt roads. As we understand the proposal to expand use of County Roads by all-terrain vehicles, children as young as 10 years old can be licensed and allowed to operate these vehicles as long as they are within sight of responsible adults. As people who frequently drive and bicycle the River Road from Buena Vista to Railroad Bridge and beyond, we know we’ll encounter young, inexperienced or aggressive drivers on all-terrain vehicles on this road where there are steep drop-offs into the river, one lane stretches, occasional washouts, and other narrow sections. In Park County, numerous complaints about ATVs have been called in to the County Sheriff’s Office and accidents have required response. While many, even most all terrain vehicle operators are probably responsible and careful, if 10% of them aren’t, that’s still a lot of potential ATV and motor vehicle/bicyclist/jogger conflicts.

As Commissioners, you will undoubtedly be considering the budgetary impacts of this proposal. While it may benefit a few B&B and motel owners, overall it could impose more costs in County services and lost revenue than it provides. We suggest that Chaffee County cannot afford the increased policing and services that this proposal will require to maintain safety, enforce traffic laws, and protect the special quality of life for residents and visitors in Chaffee County. Do you have the staff to enforce the conditions listed in the proposal – for example, use of the River Road only for access, not for recreation? Use of only certain sections of some roads like CR162? Possession of a license to operate an ATV? Will the Sheriff’s Office have time and staff to handle increased accidents, or incidents of all-terrain vehicles going off-road where they are not supposed to go? When noise complaints come in, will the County Sheriff’s Office be able to provide a timely response to your citizens and address these complaints in a manner that satisfies them? Or will this become a contentious election issue in the County? How will this proposal affect the desirability and property values along these County Roads, and therefore property taxes? How will visitors like us, who are coming for quiet recreation, react? Will we keep coming and spending tourist money in your towns, or not? We suggest that these are all costs you should consider.

We appreciate the opportunity to provide comments and look forward to learning of your final decision.

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Old 08-03-2005   #2
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
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That was really well written; thanks for your efforts.
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Old 08-03-2005   #3
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Yes, it was an eloquent, thought out, and and provided good support of your position. Thanks for putting this out to prime folks with a rational position.

One suggestion that I'd like to make for others - in commenting to decision makers, its helpful to state your point concisely in the opening or a subject line. Also if you don't have time, its not necessary go into great detail to make your voice as a citizen heard.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 08-04-2005   #4
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I have not heard of this exact issue/proposed ammendment, so I can't comment on the roads that are affected, but as a person who does a bunch of dirtbiking... I can tell you that Chaffee County has some of the best trails in the country. For that reason and the fact that they are closing access to sooo many beautiful places to dirt bike, I personally support the expansion of dirt bike trails anywhere....

As a dirtbike enthusiast, it's often not much different to see these arguments made, then to hear the arguments of people that want boaters off certain rivers. Fishermen have the same issues with kayakers as RPM and his friends have with ATV's on dirt roads. They disturb the peace that was there before the ATV/Kayak came around the corner.

I have no personal beef with anyones opinions and think it's important to respect what the local area has decided is best for it's economy / appearance etc... I for one hope that if certain "roads" are closed... that they look very heavily at investing in actual trail systems designed for expansion of more terrain for dirt bike folks...

Just my 2 cents...
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body. But rather...To skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming... WOW !!!! What a ride!!!!!!"
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Old 08-04-2005   #5
The next zone, .
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Here is a local’s take on the situation.

The area(s) in question have been used by ATV/dirt bikes for over 20 years on a gentlemen’s agreement between the sheriff and users. Now some believe that these roads should become a priority for the sheriff to patrol and ticket users who do not have a street legal machine. This proposed legislation would cut back significantly the ride able area that past users have become accustomed to over the past 20+ years.

I believe the sheriff is busy enough – he has more to do than chase dirt bikers across the hills. And guess who the wining phone calls will be coming in from – weekend warrior front rangers. 303 yo!

Myself as well as many others have used these roads for the past 20 years riding dirt bikes as a kid and now as a adult. Will these rules deter me – not a bit my bike as well as many, many, others are licensed. So why propose legislation that will enviably lead to user conflict and cannot be effectively enforced? Silly.

Also let’s not forget the 1.5 million acre wilderness area (with no dirt bikes) just to the north.

I also disagree on excluding any group from national forest. Unfortunately some will go to great lengths and try any method to ensure that someone else will not be using the national forest.
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Old 08-04-2005   #6
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I'm a dirtbiker, as well as a kayaker, snowboarder, skier, hiker, mountain biker, fisherman, backpacker, etc. So it is really interesting to view these battles from many viewpoints.

I have to agree with The Craw and Redneck. Although I really dont like ATV's and wish they would go away, (they turn high quality motorcycle trails into to low quality trails) I must support them because if their trails are closed, my trails are closed.

If you have the outlook that ATV and dirtbikes should be further banned (they have already been banned from so many hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails in this state), then you can never again get upset when somebody attempts to keep you from kayaking a certain stretch of river.

We all have to share these wonderful mountains that we have.

By the way, I have never even seen an ATV on this stretch of road. There cant be that many users there. Is it really a problem to allow the few who want to ride there to do so?
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Old 08-04-2005   #7
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dropzone, Colorado
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Originally Posted by cutthroat
If you have the outlook that ATV and dirtbikes should be further banned (they have already been banned from so many hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails in this state), then you can never again get upset when somebody attempts to keep you from kayaking a certain stretch of river.
give me a break. in any sort of rational comparison of the impact that kayaking and atv'ing have on the surrounds and other forest users, it is clear that atv's make more waves. if a kayaker is surfing a wave and noone is near, does he make a sound? if an atv is on a trail and noone is near, the disturbance can still be heard miles away. there is a lot of open land for off-road use, and having a wilderness area adjacent to this proposal is more reason to establish a buffer in my opinion, rather than a reason to make it more accessible.
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Old 08-08-2005   #8
The next zone, .
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ACC – here is a rational comparison.

I live on the Arkansas River right below a rapid that rafter love to “paddle hi five” after. On a busy Saturday from my deck I will hear 50-100 paddle hi fives complete with screams. I knew this when I bought the house just like any hikers who actually used this area in the past 25 plus years should know that there will be other users.

A kayaker surfin a wave makes no noise but his buddies hoping it up in the eddie do, rafters make tons of noise, and if I had a nickel for every boater that swims in this rapid then crosses my property to chase boats ect. I would have 2 houses on the Ark. The point is that some landowners look at us boaters just like the over righteous close everyting to everyone but us types (like the writers of the above letter).

I practice tolerance for the rafters – who am I to say they can’t raft?

I wish that other users of the national forest would practice such tolerance. It is unfortunate that some children never learned to share the sandbox.
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Old 08-08-2005   #9
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I wish it were as easy to say, "Allow everyone to use the National Forest equally". We all know, however, that the issue of more complicated than that. One case that I'm familiar with:

A few years ago, a group of mountain bikers (I believe led by the Boulder Outdoor Alliance) constructed a series of link singletrack trails in an area designated for multiple rec users. This singletrack winds serpintine through some amazing aspen and pine forests, crossing a number of jeep trails used by dirtbikes, ATVs, jeeps, etc. No problem, right? Everyone gets along. However- these trails were constructed with mountain biking / hiking in mind. They curve tightly through the trees, a little too tight in some spots for dirtbikes. So, when the dirtbikers started to explore thses trails, they could make the turns as constructed. A few of the less ethical dirtbikers started cross cutting the switchbacks to avoid the tight spots. A let's be honest- a dirtbike can create multiple times the impact of riding than a mountain biker or a hiker. Given the range and power of the machines, one dirtbike on one trail can result in the same impact as X number of mtn bikers and XX number of hikers, depending on the material (mud, gravel, hardpack) and geology (steep, hard turns).

These trails were literally being destroyed- I watched a dirtbiker create a 6" deep trough ten feet off the trail because he didn't make a turn and gunned it to get back on. The bottom line, a multiple-user scenario (bikers creating trails that subsequently get used by "higher impact" users) created a situation where the public lands were creating friction between competing recreationalists. So, BOA stepped in and offered a management plan to close some trails and leave some open for all users. I think it worked out pretty well- but a dirtbiker might disagree. I was up there yesterday, and came across dirtbikers on their designated areas and there seemed to be plenty of places for them to go. I did, however, had to scream out "CIVILIAN!" as I crossed through a group of camo-clad paintballers to keep from getting shot. Oh well- that's a whole other issue.

To be fair, there are plenty of hiking trails that became biking trails, much to the chagrin of the hikers. For that matter, I never see motos on Slickrock, and the dirtbikers originally created that trail. Maybe mtn bikers took that from the moto/ATV folks- I do know there's a lot of public lands that are accessible.

The bottom line is that there is a need to manage the public lands so that certain areas can be designated use areas. In this case, it sounds like the use of this area had been designated by default for years. Unless there's a specific issue with the lands being OVERLY damaged- because even hikers cause damage- then a management plan should be in place so everyone can recreate and not be snippy with one another. If you simply opened up all lands to any user to impact as they wish, then eventually you'll have a scenario where the largest impact user wins out- all trails (other that ones that are on the sides of a cliff) will become rutted & wide- great for ATVs, but less that ideal for other recreationalists.

RDNEK- not sure your comparison is completely corralative, since you're talking about private property adjacent to public "lands". As you said, you knew what you were gettting into when you bought the property. I think this is more of a public use issue....
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Old 08-08-2005   #10
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Uh-oh, here we go.
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