Regional Trails Meeting Re-Cap

Telluride Foundation

Regional Trails Meeting:

What is the most effective way to work with the Forests Service?

March – 2018

Placerville Fire House


In attendance: US Forest Service from Norwood and Dolores District, Rico Trails Alliance, West End Trails Alliance, CO Plateau Mountain Bike Alliance, Norwood Parks and Recreation District, Telluride Mountain Club, Telluride Nordic Association, Public Access Preservation Association (PAPA), and the Telluride Foundation


Norwood Forest Service District, John Hidy

To assist groups in making their Master Development Plan, John is working on Map of Norwood District:

  • Includes USFS trails, sorted out by motorized, nonmotorized
  • Includes wilderness and private property boundaries
  • Trails classified 1 to 5
    • 1 – deer trail, small pathway
    • 3 – if upgraded to a 5, then must be maintained at that level
    • 5 – ADA compliant, and basically a road
  • Be open in process to upgrading trails from 1 to higher
  • Waiting for USFS to tell John different concerns
    • Wildlife concerns
    • Habitat concerns
    • Lynx, Grouse, Sage Grouse

Joh is also working on document/matrix of the planning and construction level of difficulty:

  • Planning level of difficulty
  • 1 – already existing
  • 5 – hard to build
  • Building level of difficulty
  • 1 – good drainage, soil, etc.
  • 5 – base of Ajax

Mapping/Level of Difficulty Documents:

  • Once gets approval from Ranger, then will ship it off to other USFS and BLM districts for comments and approval.
  • Once we have a precedent, things will move more quickly.
  • Groups must remember to phase different projects in and coordinate timelines with the different districts.
  • Reducing the back and forth between trails groups, let trails groups start the MDP process with eyes wide open and knowing what they are working with
  • Know ahead of time if your efforts are a 1 or a 5.

Zone Leaders

  • Paul Koski – West End
  • Heidi Lauterbach – Telluride
  • Matt Basham – Ophir

Master Development Plan Template

  • USFS has minimal contact with the BLM.
  • USFS to take the lead with format which will be acceptable to the BLM.
  • BLM may accept proposals in that template, but the criteria/timeline/decision making process will be different.
  • Example of a solid Master Development Plan – Telluride Mountain Club
  • Working on 3 of the 7 trails this summer, ground truth process

MDP Outline (Keep MDP along lines of NEPA)

  1. Purpose and Need Statement
    1. What is the purpose of the trail/development? Why do we need it?
    2. Better continuity through trail A to B
    3. USFS looks for – Public Safety, Resource Protection
    4. Economic and community benefits less important
    5. Connect Sunshine Mesa to Galloping Goose, don’t want people riding on Ilium Road, getting hikers/bikers off the road (public safety), may prevent future illegal trail building (resource protection)
  2. Proposed Action
    1. Dream Option – include 4 bridges, x y z
    2. Compromise Option – what if USFS says no jumps or no bridges? Ex. Build on flume that is already there, on water line, previously disturbed area, already has a corridor there
    3. Not going to do anything. Bare minimum – Ex. Whoever owns the road will put a bike path there.
  3. Costs and Benefits
  4. Costs – what is district ranger comfortable with?
    1. If already disturbed area, do basic CE (basic NEPA)
    2. Construction costs – fairly low for Sunshine Mesa
  • What is visual impact of the trail? Switchbacks up the side of the canyon
  1. Benefits – getting people off the road, providing continuity and better trail system
  1. Where we don’t want trails – Riparian areas (streams)
  2. Redesigning trail to reduce user conflict
  • Increasing public safety, increasing sight lines
  1. Subtle benefits
  2. Resource protection
  3. Economic benefits – attract more people, more people will spend money locally
  • In and out of wilderness – move whole thing out of wilderness, or move part of it out of the wilderness, not creating management headache
    1. Nonstarters – Do not want to steer people towards private property
      1. Do not direct people towards trails on private property
      2. Ask land owner for a permanent easement, in writing, in perpetuity, forever even if they sell the land
  • Not going to build public trails on the ski area, unless working with Scott Pittenger

MDP Approval Process

  1. Creation of MDP. Keep in touch with local USFS while you are working on MDP.
  2. Run it through Matrix/Map created by John, rate 1-5 level of difficulty. Show capacity. Show that you have a plan B.
  3. USFS approval. Higher probability of approving an MDP when it follows the mapping/level of difficulty framework and works with other groups.
  4. NEPA
    1. Cost range for a NEPA study – $15-$20,000 in staff time
      1. WETA 4.5 miles hired out NEPA for $16-20,000
      2. CE and EA
  • USFS doesn’t want to do Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
  1. Need to find the money, USFS may not have the funding
  1. Construction, shovel to the ground
    1. Nonmotorized funding, need at least 20% of matching funding ($ not in kind)
    2. Looks better if funding comes from a partner
    3. Small pot available for nonmotorized, competitive
    4. State appreciates when the grant demonstrates consensus and connection to community
    5. Possible to complete with entirely volunteer labor?
      1. Possible, but you need to show capacity, needs to get done at same pace as contractor or crew, one or two summers
      2. Use past track record, show a plan, show the number of people working, equipment rentals, etc.
  • USFS can’t leave open dirt
  1. Joint project – professional (SEC crew) and volunteer teams

Dolores Forest Service District, Chris Bouton

  • Different forests have different projects, political priorities at different moments
  • Something that could move quickly in GMUG may not move quickly in Dolores
  • Need the vision that the community can coalesce
  • Bring resources to the table (pay for NEPA)
  • Process of developing a vision – not going to take on a project unless there is buy-in from motorized and nonmotorized
  • GMUG map/matrix may be able to work in the Dolores District

Rogue construction

  • Almost no rogue trails meet standards of USFS
  • Required to do full bench, cut in 4 full feet when on a slope
  • Cut 6 feet wide
  • Not the most effective framework.
  • USFS will not accept the rogue trails.
  • Trails are not environmentally sustainable if rogue.
  • $250,000 to get trails up to standard retroactively.

MDP à  NEPA à Building trails à Maintain it

Will the USFS taking on role of grant writer or grant manager?

  • Not ideal because that takes up 50-60% of the time
  • USFS would be the willing to administer a grant if community really thinks that it is important
  • Prefer outside administrator

Need NEPA for new re-routes?

  • Depends on the district
  • Different tolerance to risk on each district of USFS
  • What are the risks?
    • Wilderness groups
    • Archeologists, most trails have no cultural surveys


  • Grant applications to CPW (PAPA willing to show good and bad examples).
  • GOCO grant – looks better with a large region and more players involved.

Should we run an MDP by CPW first?

  • Good idea. They are apart of NEPA process. Best if they are involved sooner rather than later to avoid any problems.
  • Mitigate concerns, seasonal closures, not impossible but need to mitigate
  • This makes future projects smoother

Next Steps:

  • NEPA Class
  • Grant writing workshop
  • Most effective framework – work with USFS, not rogue trails


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