In Chaffee County, a small group of all terrain vehicle riders are pushing (with, it seems, insider political support and large political contributions) an effort to open initially 8 - and now 21 - county roads to all terrain vehicle use.
This is not about access to the many existing all terrain trails in the county, but it is about excess.
There are more than 500 miles of officially designated routes open to unlicensed motor vehicles in Chaffee County.
If a person on an all terrain vehicle would stay at the maximum safe suggested speed limit of 20 miles per hour on all those routes, it would take more than 40 days of riding continuously 8 hours a day to cover them all.
Some claim this action will bring in more visitors with such vehicles, but given that motorized recreationists are a distinct minority on public land (5-7 percent nationwide), many more non-motorized users will be displaced by the invasion, yielding a net loss of visitors and the money they spend at local businesses.
In addition, noise, reduced road safety, trespass into closed areas, and wildlife habitat fragmentation will follow.
Illegal off-road use serves to push deer and elk farther back into the wilds, pushing them away from law-abiding hunters who proceed on foot.
Among public land users, hunters (in particular) are increasingly being excluded from our public land by internal combustion engines.
Virtually everyone who has hunted or hiked on public land in recent years has heard the whine, seen the dust and damage and felt the pain of loss.
With this extreme proposal to allow all terrain vehicles on 21 roads in Chaffee County, the very health of the land and wildlife habitat is at risk.
David A. Lien,
Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers