Forest Service Cancels Proposed 40-Mile MTB Network in Southwest Colorado

After reviewing public comments and the potential impact on wildlife, the Forest Service is pulling the plug on a plan for 40-miles of trail.

A 40-mile mountain bike trail system in Southwestern Colorado is no longer being considered by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) after the Pagosa Ranger District evaluated public input.

The Jackson Mountain Landscape Project, which also included a gravel pit to be used for county and USFS access roads, received public input from some who were concerned about the impact the trails could have on the local elk population.

“Concerns over the probable impacts of a trail system on an important big game migration corridor have led me to conclude that we would be in error in proceeding with the analysis of the trail proposal as currently envisioned,” said District Ranger Josh Peck in a press release by the USFS published April 21st. Peck also noted they would review other opportunities for the gravel pit.

“Cumulative impacts to critical habitat, including winter range, migration corridors, production areas, and high elevation summer range, due to human population growth is a concern in the DAU (data analysis unit),” wrote Colorado Parks and Wildlife in a 2020 report on the San Juan Basin elk population, noting the growing interest in outdoor recreation and the impact on effective wildlife habitat.

The trail system would have included up to 40-miles of sustainably designed bike and multi-use trail. The Developing Urban Singletrack & Team (DUST2), an advocacy group based in Pagosa Springs had approached the USFS in 2017 about the trail network construction, according to the Durango Herald.

In their news statement, the Pagosa Ranger District said they are continuing the environmental analysis for a fuels reduction, tree removal, and thinning plan to improve forest health and resiliency.

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