Riders Off The Road

Riders Off The Road (aka CBMBA's Short Term Trails Plan)​

Overview and Goal

CBMBA maintains a long term trail vision, as well as a 5-8 year short term plan. This short term trails plan, Riders Off The Road (ROTR), presents a roadmap that focuses on trail improvements and connections within the existing network. This plan is a means for CBMBA to move away from annual trail requests to the USFS and other constituents, and to have the support and permissions in place to plan several years out. The goal is to facilitate recreation and infrastructure improvements within the current trail system by connecting existing trails, realigning non-sustainable routes, and designating proper trail access points to create a better recreation experience.

Process 

CBMBA has been working closely with the Gunnison County Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation (STOR) Committee to refine this plan to one that will serve the interests of as many users as possible. It’s no surprise that it’s tough to all agree on what we want on public lands, and a lot of conversation and compromise went into this plan. However, after many, many meetings and after revamping this plan many, many times, we are excited to report that 13 of the 15 trails in CBMBA’s ROTR plan have been recommended by the  STOR Committee for submission to the Gunnison Ranger District to enter the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for scoping. NEPA is a federal process for public lands managers to gain public input and assess the environmental effects of proposed actions prior to making decisions. This is a standard process to ensure the public has a chance to comment and to ensure environmental feasibility when making decisions regarding changes or additions to public lands (trails), and is similar to what a ski resort would go through if they wanted to expand their ski terrain. 

While it may seem like this process is in the early stages, it has taken significant effort to even get this far. CBMBA has requested comments and suggestions from our member base and community over the years, has held public open houses, and has compiled a lengthy list of trail “wants” which helped shape this ROTR plan. In addition, the CBMBA Board of Directors has worked for years with its own review process to determine the feasibility of new trails and trail connections. In an effort to tackle some of the public concerns and reach out to the many stakeholders, CBMBA has dedicated significant effort to working with ranchers and stock growers, sportsmen, wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, and public lands agencies to identify and even shape trail projects that are mutually agreed upon. 

Certain highly-desired trail requests were initially a part of this plan, but have since been vetted off the list due to the lack of collaborative support from the various stakeholders. Although some are not seemingly “ripe” for the current proposal, they are still included in CBMBA’s Long Term Trails Plan, and we will continue to work with the USFS, the STOR committee, and the community to continue advocating for them. 

ROTR Current Status

In December of 2020, CBMBA proposed an amended Riders Off the Road plan to the STOR committee for the second time in response to initial feedback and in an effort to reach a broader consensus. The current plan proposes 15 trails (mainly re-routes, connections, and parallel trails), and of the 15, 13 received unanimous approval. The STOR committee recommended the Gunnison Ranger District to accept CBMBA’s Riders Off the Road plan for NEPA scoping of those 13 proposed trails. Click the button below for the most recent version (Dec. 2020) of the ROTR Plan including the proposed 15 trails.

 

The two trails that did not receive unanimous support from the STOR committee in this final proposal were the Snodgrass and Eccher Gulch/Granite Basin proposals (#2 and #13 on map). The existing Snodgrass Trail is partially on private property and sees a short window of use due to the closure of the trail for existing ranching operations. When Snodgrass is closed in early to mid-August, there is no connection between the Gothic and Washington Gulch drainages, leaving a large gap in the trail network infrastructure and public land access, specifically for bicycles. CBMBA’s ROTR Snodgrass Trail proposal was a means to put a trail completely on public lands. Utilizing the existing north end of the Snodgrass Trail (on public lands) and the existing road to the top of Snodgrass Mountain, the proposed trail proceeded down the north ridge of Snodgrass, avoided private property boundaries, and ultimately ended up at the highly-used Rendezvous Meadow camping area in Washington Gulch, where a bathroom, parking, and future trail information and infrastructure will be located. The STOR Committee considered CBMBA’s Snodgrass not ready for scoping in the NEPA process, ultimately citing concerns for wildlife, habitat fragmentation, and current ranching operations. However, the USFS has stated it will continue to look into a collaborative solution for the highly-desired Snodgrass Trail, and CBMBA will continue to advocate for a longer Snodgrass season and a means to connect two popular recreation areas.  

The Eccher Gulch/Granite Basin Trail has 3 components in the CBMBA proposal: a re-route on the unsustainable and damaged southern end, a re-route in the middle of the trail where a steep fall-line hike-a-bike currently exists, and then a proper and identifiable trail exit at the northern end where the trail currently ends at private property. There is a somewhat confusing story surrounding this exit! The currently-used exit on the northern end traverses private property, is not a legal system route, and does not have a trail access easement. Recently, that private property deemed the access and use as non-existent and further shut down the parking and access to the trail terminus. CBMBA is dedicated to working with the USFS and the private landowners to find a solution for this access to the expansive public lands just behind the private property along Highway 135. Wildlife and sportsmen raised concerns for this trail as a whole, being it’s more of a standalone trail that is not connected to the larger network of trails, and has high value for wildlife. Eccher Gulch/Granite Basin (not including the exit in question) is a system route that has been identified in the Travel Management process as being suitable for hike, bike, and horse travel and is a local favorite. Both the sportsmen/wildlife contingent and recreation advocates enjoy this trail for the same reasons – because of its unique and “way out there” wildness. CBMBA will continue seeking a solution for this exit point and will advocate to continue the current travel management prescriptions and future use of the trail.  

CBMBA looks forward to working through the next steps of this proposal, which will require scoping of the individual components, a public input process, and assessment of environmental feasibility in order to reach a decision as to whether the trails are suitable or not. With the current work and collaboration that has gone into the plan and the unanimous support by the STOR Committee for the 13 trails in the plan, CBMBA is hopeful and excited about the prospect of this plan moving forward to improve upon our existing trail network.  

ROTR Current Status

In December of 2020, CBMBA proposed an amended Riders Off the Road plan to the STOR committee for the second time in response to initial feedback and in an effort to reach a broader consensus. The current plan proposes 15 trails (mainly re-routes, connections, and parallel trails), and of the 15, 13 received unanimous approval. The STOR committee recommended the Gunnison Ranger District to accept CBMBA’s Riders Off the Road plan for NEPA scoping of those 13 proposed trails. Click the button below for the most recent version (Dec. 2020) of the ROTR Plan including the proposed 15 trails.

The two trails that did not receive unanimous support from the STOR committee in this final proposal were the Snodgrass and Eccher Gulch/Granite Basin proposals (#2 and #13 on map). The existing Snodgrass Trail is partially on private property and sees a short window of use due to the closure of the trail for existing ranching operations. When Snodgrass is closed in early to mid-August, there is no connection between the Gothic and Washington Gulch drainages, leaving a large gap in the trail network infrastructure and public land access, specifically for bicycles. CBMBA’s ROTR Snodgrass Trail proposal was a means to put a trail completely on public lands. Utilizing the existing north end of the Snodgrass Trail (on public lands) and the existing road to the top of Snodgrass Mountain, the proposed trail proceeded down the north ridge of Snodgrass, avoided private property boundaries, and ultimately ended up at the highly-used Rendezvous Meadow camping area in Washington Gulch, where a bathroom, parking, and future trail information and infrastructure will be located. The STOR Committee considered CBMBA’s Snodgrass not ready for scoping in the NEPA process, ultimately citing concerns for wildlife, habitat fragmentation, and current ranching operations. However, the USFS has stated it will continue to look into a collaborative solution for the highly-desired Snodgrass Trail, and CBMBA will continue to advocate for a longer Snodgrass season and a means to connect two popular recreation areas.  

The Eccher Gulch/Granite Basin Trail has 3 components in the CBMBA proposal: a re-route on the unsustainable and damaged southern end, a re-route in the middle of the trail where a steep fall-line hike-a-bike currently exists, and then a proper and identifiable trail exit at the northern end where the trail currently ends at private property. There is a somewhat confusing story surrounding this exit! The currently-used exit on the northern end traverses private property, is not a legal system route, and does not have a trail access easement. Recently, that private property deemed the access and use as non-existent and further shut down the parking and access to the trail terminus. CBMBA is dedicated to working with the USFS and the private landowners to find a solution for this access to the expansive public lands just behind the private property along Highway 135. Wildlife and sportsmen raised concerns for this trail as a whole, being it’s more of a standalone trail that is not connected to the larger network of trails, and has high value for wildlife. Eccher Gulch/Granite Basin (not including the exit in question) is a system route that has been identified in the Travel Management process as being suitable for hike, bike, and horse travel and is a local favorite. Both the sportsmen/wildlife contingent and recreation advocates enjoy this trail for the same reasons – because of its unique and “way out there” wildness. CBMBA will continue seeking a solution for this exit point and will advocate to continue the current travel management prescriptions and future use of the trail.  

CBMBA looks forward to working through the next steps of this proposal, which will require scoping of the individual components, a public input process, and assessment of environmental feasibility in order to reach a decision as to whether the trails are suitable or not. With the current work and collaboration that has gone into the plan and the unanimous support by the STOR Committee for the 13 trails in the plan, CBMBA is hopeful and excited about the prospect of this plan moving forward to improve upon our existing trail network.

 
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