Moffat County Commission backs BLM inventory study
In other action ...
At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Moffat County Commission:
• Approved, 3-0, hiring a part-time information technology technician for the information technology department.
• Approved, 3-0, hiring a part-time master control employee for the Moffat County Public Safety Center.
• Approved, 3-0, a $210,172 bid from County Technical Services, Inc. to provide worker’s compensation insurance for Moffat County employees.
• Approved, 3-0, a special events liquor license for Wyman Museum.
• Approved, 3-0, a federal Community Block Grants Program application for phase one improvements to the Maybell Sanitation District.
• Approved, 3-0, two senior driveway snowplowing requests.
The Moffat County Commission decided Tuesday to support the Bureau of Land Management in its quest for funding to conduct an inventory of its Off Highway Vehicle trails.
Matt Anderson, associate field manager of the BLM’s Little Snake Field Office, and Shane Dittlinger, outdoor recreation planner for the field office, said implementing an OHV travel management plan is part of the office’s Record of Decision that was released last month.
But, before the office can implement a travel management plan, Dittlinger said the Little Snake Field Office must first compile a database of OHV trails in its 1.3 million-acre region.
“Before we can start talking about a plan, we need to know what’s on the ground,” Dittlinger said.
He said the Little Snake Field Office is working with the White River Field Office on the inventory study, which includes approximately 6,000 to 8,000 miles of OHV trails in Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties.
Dittlinger said the hope is to fund the three-year project with grants from Colorado State Parks. The two offices plan to ask the state agency for $120,000 per year to pay for the study.
“Basically in order to get the grant, we need a letter of support from local agencies,” Dittlinger said. “All the money is going to be used for is to inventory so we know what’s on the ground.”
He said the Little Snake Field Office has received such letters from commissioners in Rio Blanco County and officials from the local branch of the U.S. Forest Service.
The county commission voted, 3-0, to draft a letter of support.
But, commissioner Tom Gray said OHV travel management has been a concern of his since the Record of Decision process began, and he doesn’t want to see public access to the trails blocked if the inventory study is not completed within three years.
“My concern back when we were working on the (Resource Management Plan) was if the inventory doesn’t get done, the default would be to close any trails that haven’t been designated,” Gray said. “I just don’t want to see this become a stumbling block for keeping certain areas closed.”
Dittlinger said that is a common misconception.
“Anything that was open at the time the ROD was signed remains open,” Dittlinger said. “Until that time where we need to connect routes.”
Dave Watson, representing the Yampa Valley OHV Trail Riders club, voiced different concerns with the inventory study.
Watson said the funds state parks sets aside for OHV grants are almost entirely paid by All Terrain Vehicle registration fees, which cost $25 per vehicle each year.
The purpose of the vehicle registration fee, Watson said, is to return money to those who pay it so clubs like his can conduct maintenance on trails they use.
But, those values don’t appear to carry as much importance as they used to, Watson said.
Last year, approximately $4 million in grants were available for OHV projects.
Watson said 82 percent of the money went to federal agencies like the BLM and forest service.
“I’ve got a real thorn in my side about the whole deal because we’re paying to go out and ride these areas,” Watson said. “Then, the government turns around and takes our registration fees and gives them to federal agencies.”
Watson said he feels cut out and local OHV clubs don’t have a fair shot at acquiring grants when there are so many federal agencies vying for the same funds.
“I agree with the thorn in your side,” Gray said. “What we do today won’t change anything, but that’s something that should be tackled in a different arena.”