Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

12 Jun 2017

Trail+live trees obliterated by Forest Service, Trails 2000 and San Juan Citizens Alliance

Posted by Adam Howell


Print Friendly

An illegal trail and dozens of live trees along it were obliterated by employees of the U.S. Forest Service and Trails 2000, as well as volunteers from the San Juan Citizens Alliance, the San Juan Mountains Association and Garrett Coleman.

IMG_5814Known as the Long Hollow Trail, Forest Service officials caught wind of the unauthorized trail after people complained about it being actively constructed by mountain bikers.

Google Earth satellite imagery from April of 2006 confirms that the lower half of the trail existed at that point.

In other words, the Long Hollow Trail existed before the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection legislation was passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in December, 2014. It created both the Hermosa Creek Special Management Area and the adjacent 37,236-acre Hermosa Creek Wilderness.

It is unclear when the upper portion of the Long Hollow Trail was constructed, or if it was in existence before the working group began mapping out the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Plan.

In response to complaints, officials decided that the trail was not allowed per the Hermosa Creek Special Management Area Designation, and organized a group of people to obliterate it, according to Columbine District Ranger Matt Janowiak.

Reasoning that Janowiak gave for the trail closure was that it was an illegal trail with sections that were environmentally unsustainable due to their erosive potential.

Ask the Forest Service before you build

Last week, Janowiak stated publicly that the Forest Service isn’t against mountain bike trails, while requesting that people come talk to him or Staff Recreation Officer Jed Botsford before they build anything.

IMG_5818“I’ve been consistent in my message ever since I started this job,” said Janowiak. “They may not necessarily like the final decision, or they might not like what they hear, but I will always listen and we will talk, and we will talk constructively.”

“I will also explain to people if there’s a prospect for the project to be a successful project how would you make it a successful project, and how to work with us. So it’s not heck no we’re not going to listen to you, go away, unless it’s just a completely ridiculous project like someone wanting to build a mountain bike trail through a wilderness.”

“Certain downhill trails would be grotesquely expensive to maintain, let alone build,” said Janowiak. “Why would we say yes to something like that when we know down the road it’s going to lead to a big scar on the landscape? Then we’re going to get yelled at by other members of the public.”

Trail work proposal previously rejected

IMG_5816In the past, this blogger asked permission to do trail work on the Forest from Columbine Trails Foreman Don Kelly, who promptly rejected my request, stating that the agency already had enough trails for people to recreate on.

Unilateral rejection is something that Janowiak does not support.

“I’ve told Don that that’s not our position on Columbine Ranger District,” said Janowiak. “We don’t say flat out no to those kinds of things. If Don doesn’t want to have those conversations with people then he needs to give them Jed Botsford’s phone number or my phone number. That’s what I’ve explained to Don. We’re not just unilaterally saying no. We will talk, we will listen, and that’s how we come up with travel management plans, is by listening and talking to the community, and figure out what’s going to make sense in the next area where we’re going to do planning.”

“The public has spoken to us through congress,” Janowiak said. “So when congress passed that legislation, they were clear. They said: this is what the public wants. They want this managed differently. They want a higher level of protection and one of those levels of protection is telling mountain bikes to stay on designated trails. That’s something that we’re working with the mountain biking community to figure out what the right trail network is, and you’ll see some options in the Environmental Assessment as far as what trails we’re proposing to add.”

“Have a look at it, and provide us your feedback.”

To view the EA document and maps, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=43010.

The Long Hollow Trail is seen in this August 2006 satellite image.

The Long Hollow Trail is seen in this April, 2006 satellite image.

A satellite image from June of 2012 shows the lower portion of the Long Hollow Trail in existence.

A satellite image from June of 2012 shows the lower portion of the Long Hollow Trail in existence.

IMG_5809
IMG_5810

This was an eighty-year-old ponderosa that the Forest Service took down to obliterate the Long Hollow Trail.

This was an eighty-year-old ponderosa that the Forest Service took down to obliterate the Long Hollow Trail.

IMG_5833

Subscribe to Comments

2 Responses to “Trail+live trees obliterated by Forest Service, Trails 2000 and San Juan Citizens Alliance”

  1. Hey Adam,

    There is a meeting at Ska tonight at 7:30 with the Forest Service regarding this.

     

    Jeremy

  2. Damn I wish I could have made that meeting; I had to work.
    Please let me know again if you hear about any more meetings.

     

    Adam Howell

Leave a Reply

Message: