Proposed Wilson Peak Land Exchange could Affect Biking Trails
Read the Telluride Daily Planet’s cover story, “Proposed Wilson Peak Land Exchange could affect biking trails.”
Telluride Mountain Club and San Miguel Bike Alliance are urging mountain bikers who enjoy the Prospect-Alta-T35 loop to submit a comment to the U.S. Forest Service about its proposed Wilson Peak Land Exchange submit comments.
Let the USFS know why public access on the Alta Lakes trails system is important to you and how trails in general help our area. Whether you enjoy hiking or biking on these beautiful trails, please help us keep them open and accessible to the public.
The Telluride Mountain Club generally supports the proposed Wilson Peak Land Exchange and commends the entities involved for working together on this conservation-based exchange. With a few exceptions, this exchange appears to be a win-win situation for the USFS, the private landowners and for public access, especially in the Silver Pick Basin and Yellow Mountain areas.
We’re excited to see the Rock of Ages pass becoming public domain, and the areas near the summit of Yellow Mountain, the location of many popular, long-standing backcountry ski routes.
Although the mechanics of the proposed Land Exchange seem positive, we have some concerns that many Existing Established Important Trails in the Skyline Ranch and Alta Lakes areas (Parcel 2 and Parcel 3) will not be protected after the USFS finalizes the Land Exchange. In collaboration with the San Miguel Bicycle Alliance, we have prepared the attached maps which clearly depict those Existing Established Important Trails and the property boundaries both pre- and post-exchange.
While we are happy to see that Skyline Ranch, LLC and Alta Lakes, LLC (collectively, the Proponents) have stated that they will grant public access easements on some trails, we also have noted several Areas of Concerns on existing public lands (depicted in red), which the USFS may convey into private ownership. Continued public access on trails in our region is vital to our economic and social welfare. The trails in question have long been established and are very popular for locals and visitors alike, and comprise a larger trails system that provides a crucial link between other USFS-recognized trails in the area.
To ensure continued public access in and around these cherished lands, Telluride Mountain Club would like the USFS to protect and recognize these Existing Established Important Trails. We appreciate that the Proponents intend to ensure continued public access on these trails.
However, TMC strongly feels that the USFS needs to thoroughly review all Areas of Concern and must secure access easements prior to the closing and conveyance of any public lands to the Proponents. Otherwise, there is no guarantee that the Proponents or any future owner(s) of Parcels 2 and/or 3 will maintain public access. Telluride Mountain Club cannot support any land trade that does not require careful inventory of existing trails, and then the execution of access easements within all Areas of Concern prior to closing and conveyance to private ownership.
We look forward to working with the USFS to help identify and map an appropriate trail network and work towards creating a sustainable trails system. Telluride Mountain Club is also eager to help the USFS amend the current Forest Management Plan in the Alta area to further ensure these Existing Important Trails are not only protected, but are also added into the USFS trails inventory.
Thank you for your careful consideration on this issue. Please let us know how we can assist you.
Tor Anderson, Board President
and the Telluride Mountain Club
Board of Directors