New regulations this winter would restrict access for snowmobiles and other motorized vehicles to sections of road entering restricted areas of the White River National Forest. The changes are effective immediately, after the Board of County Commissioners voted on a resolution to amend the Open Space Rules and Regulations and Snowmobile Ordinance 13.
Under the new regulations, winter motor vehicle access to Gold Run Gulch, Boreas Pass, Baldy and Sallie Barber roads would be restricted.
Prior to the change, the roads would lead to land that motor vehicles may not access under the White River National Forest Travel Management Plan and the Golden Horseshoe Management Plan. The plans were approved after more than 10 years of public review, with the intention of protecting natural resources and recreation opportunities for the public.
“So many places have a checker-boarding of land ownership, it’s important for us to work together and be consistent,” Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said.
She added that under the agreement, non-motorized recreational uses would be protected in those areas. For example, the county received a request from the town of Breckenridge to close the Golden Horseshoe area to motorized use in the winter, as the site is popular for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Ownership of the land is combined between the U.S. Forest Service, Breckenridge, Summit County Open Space & Trails and a few private entities. Landowners with properties behind the closure points will not be affected by the changes in access.
“These changes are necessary to ensure that we have uniform, consistent management of natural resources across jurisdictional boundaries,” Stiegelmeier said in a statement. “They also help separate motorized uses from non-motorized uses, so that everyone’s recreational experiences are safer and more enjoyable.”
Vehicles that took the roads only to reach the boundary would either trespass onto restricted forest land or simply be forced to turn around.
“They would leave the roads and travel into unauthorized areas,” said Katherine King, senior resource specialist for Summit County Open Space and Trails. “Vehicles would also travel on these roads when it was a low-snow year. They would travel one of these roads, the snow would get deeper and they would get stuck.”
She added in the next few weeks, signs would be placed at the site of the new closures.
“We’re moving the closure points to a place that makes more practical sense to manage,” she added.