UPDATE 1/8/2015: The Pitkin County Open Space & Trails Board has adopted the management plan, clearing the way for this new trail! Eagle County and Pitkin County Commissioners will now be asked to also adopt the plan prior to the property’s opening on May 15 of this year. The existing dirt road on the property will be worth a visit this year to check out the vicinity of the trail that will be designed this summer.
12/3/2014: A new open space property in the mid-valley El Jebel area is very likely to provide mountain bikers with a new way to access the Crown BLM public lands. Submit your comments in support of the proposed high quality recreation trail before the deadline this Friday, Dec. 5! This trail is envisioned as a machine built trail with reasonable grades and banked turns that will connect the valley floor to the highest elevations of the property. Pending the management plan’s adoption, this trail will be designed in 2015 and built in 2016. Connecting to existing BLM routes is just the start; we are advocating for additional trails to be developed on this part of the Crown BLM during future years.
In reviewing the draft management plan, you may notice that the preferred proposed parking lot trailhead is located off-site, about a 1/2 mile from this open space property. While not a deal killer for mountain bikers, we’d suggest that your comment include the notion that public funds would be better utilized by placing the parking lot trailhead on the actual Glassier OS property. For those who live far from the trailhead and need to drive, this would have the added benefit of getting your knobby tires closer to the dirt trails.
The draft management plan for the Glassier Open Space in Emma went to the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Board for initial review on Oct. 23. The board reviewed the plan again on Nov. 6; its adoption is tentatively scheduled in December. This is your final opportunity to make a comment in support of the proposed trail. The board is scheduled to discuss the plan again on Dec. 18. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the Plaza One meeting room, 530 E. Main St., Aspen.
Mountain bikers and trail lovers were well represented on the citizen steering committee that helped shape the management plan during a series of meetings earlier this year. Here are comments on the draft plan that were recently submitted by RFMBA.
The proposed construction of a sustainable high quality recreation trail connecting to the adjacent BLM land is the most important part of this plan for recreation users. The Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, a Chapter of IMBA, has created a conceptual alignment for this trail & looks forward to assisting OS&T in the design and flagging of this route. Signage on the property, as well as on the adjacent BLM land will be critical in keeping recreation users from inadvertently trespassing on adjacent private property. The existing ranch road that connects to the BLM should be maintained for equestrian use, permitted grazing use, and foot traffic looking for direct up/down access.
The Plan’s “Preferred Alternative” parking lot will require additional public funds to acquire; given the amount of land available on the already acquired Glassier OS parcels, this seems like an unnecessary expenditure of funds that could be applied towards improvements on the actual Glassier OS property.
The “Preferred Alternative” parking lot is 0.5 miles from the edge of the Glassier OS; hikers and small children will have 2 miles (back and forth) of walking on the paved Rio Grande trail & through agricultural fields between the parking area and the edge of the OS’s natural vegetation (red rock) zone. While this situation may be acceptable for bicycle recreation, walkers, and families with young children are less likely to choose this route repeatedly for their recreation, lessening the value of the OS property to a greater number of recreation user types.
Locating the parking lot on an already disturbed portion of the Glassier OS would be preferred by mountain bikers who are seeking high quality dirt trail experiences, and by those traveling on foot who seek the natural experience and views offered along the edge of the red ridge cliffs on the property. Funds saved from additional land acquisition can be used to ensure adequate screening of this parking lot from adjacent neighbors. The closest private property (house) to this on‐site location is much farther than the distance between the “preferred alternative” parking lot and neighboring private properties (houses); this on‐site location should be the Plan’s preferred parking situation.
The neighbors impacted by the potential “Preferred Alternative” parking lot did not serve on the management plan’s steering committee, as did neighbors living closer to the Glassier OS property’s boundary. It seems that the plan has been partly hijacked by self interested parties willing to shift the impacts of living next to an open space (some limited, screened parking), while still benefiting greatly from the open space’s presence (long term preservation of agriculture, limited or no development, recreation access to federal lands).