The U.S. Forest Service San Isabel National Forest – Salida Ranger District is seeking comments on a proposal that would reopen CR 101 Bear Creek Road and CR 108 Methodist Mountain Road to motorized vehicles, yet prohibit camping along the roads and within the Decker Fire burn area for up to five years.
The intent of modifying and extending the order is to provide access to public lands and trailheads while maintaining public safety.
The agency is seeking safety-related comments about the proposal by Monday, explaining why or why or not commenters believe the Forest Service should adopt the proposal. Email comments to email@example.com, fax them to 719-530-2160 or mail to District Ranger James Pitts, USDA Forest Service, Salida Ranger District, 5575 Cleora Road, Salida, CO 81201.
Comments should be received by May 25 to be most helpful in the analysis.
“We’re trying to get other eyes on the idea and allow people to give their feedback,” Pitts said.
Sections of 101 of 108 are both currently closed to motorized vehicles. Pitts said they’d like to reopen 108 all the way to the Rainbow Trail. It’s currently closed above the Little Rainbow Trail near where the county road ends.
CR 101 is currently closed at the Columbine trailhead. Full-sized vehicles would still be restricted from going further under the proposal, but hikers, bikers and dirt bike riders would be allowed to use 101 to access the Rainbow Trail and other trailheads in the area.
Pitts said allowing full-size vehicles on 101 is not part of the proposal, noting that the fire impacted some culverts and the impacts rain might have in the area are still unknown.
Public safety concerns include flooding, rolling rocks and falling trees due to post-fire conditions and seasonal thunderstorms.
The proposal would allow single-track motorized access only on Bear Creek Road. Pedestrian, equestrian and bicycle use of the roads and trails within the area would still be permitted.
“We’d like to get changes in place in time for summer recreation to allow people to get out on the trail network and see for themselves (the Decker burn scar),” Pitts said.
The Rainbow Trail near 101 was closed temporarily last week so the Forest Service could cut down some hazard trees but is now open again. Pitts said since the fire burned last fall it limited mitigation ability, so quite a bit of work must be done in the area.
As far as the five-year time frame for camping, Pitts said they could modify the rule again later, but said the three to five years after a fire is a crucial time frame to allow the landscape to settle down to a point where the movement of rocks slows down and vegetation starts to rebound.
For detailed information about the proposal, visit fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=58175.