Recently, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) field office that manages Phil’s World approved an additional 22.5 miles of trail in the area that will expand the total system mileage to an estimated 50 miles. However, some local landowners have voiced opposition to the expansion.
The new Poquito Burrito trail loop will be added right off the existing Stinking Springs trail. Dig crews began construction in late April, and they expect Poquito Burrito to be the most challenging trail in the Phil’s World area.
“It’ll definitely have technical elements to it,” says Jeff Christensen, a BLM recreation planner. He expects there to be at least two or three sections that many riders will have to dismount and walk, like a new 80-foot section dubbed, “the slot.”
Christensen says the Poquito Burrito trail is already about 70% done, but it could be years until the rest of the rest of the new trails are completed, depending on the number of volunteers they have in their trail crews.
Nearby residents responded to the initial expansion plans with an appeal, saying they were concerned about the impact to wildlife. The appeal has been put on hold by the Interior Board of Land Appeals, which has allowed the BLM to start digging.
Adjacent landowners to Phil’s World told the BLM they were concerned about impacts to wildlife and cultural sites, along with increased traffic in the area. Cortez, CO has thousands of cultural sites including cliff dwellings, rock art, and kivas, which are ancient rooms that were used for religious and formal meetings.
Robert and Lou Ann Ball told The Journal, a Cortez-area newspaper, that the new trails would disrupt wildlife, break up the habitat, and force wildlife outside of their normal areas and onto private land which could cause harm to crops. The original plan for the proposed trails was said to be routed through cultural sites, golden eagle nesting areas, and other wildlife habitats.
In an attempt to accommodate concerns, the BLM has re-routed trail around the cultural sites, and put a buffer zone of approximately 350-acres between any trail and eagle’s nests, says Christensen. A 50-foot minimum distance will separate new trails from cultural sites in the area.
For now, the BLM will dig on using the resources and volunteer labor they have. Although not everyone who has weighed in on the new trails is happy, Christensen says, “it wasn’t the majority of people who were involved in the process.”