City advisory boards have approved a compromise that would allow year-round access to the Oxbow Preserve’s perimeter trail but close the interior to protect wildlife.
The proposal will now go before the Durango City Council for final approval, said Director of the Parks and Recreation Cathy Metz.
The management of the Oxbow Preserve, which is home to about 85 species of birds, has been debated for months.
The preserve had been seasonally closed for study for two years, and it was scheduled to be open year-round starting in December.
But Councilor Sweetie Marbury raised concerns about opening the 38-acre preserve east of Animas View Drive along the Animas River because of how it might affect wildlife.
The trail into the preserve that could be open year-round starts in the 6-acre Oxbow Park, southwest of the preserve. The park is open year-round, and the city plans to build a boat ramp and parking lot for river users.
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board approved the compromise Wednesday after discussing and approving a ban on dogs and bikes.
Some members of the board expressed concern that banning bicycles from the trail might set a precedent.
This could be the first time the city excludes a user group from a trail, Metz said.
However, the trail is fairly flat and short and would likely not have much appeal to the cycling community, other board members argued.
“It’s really a nature trail; it’s not meant to be something other than that,” said Kevin Hall, director of community development.
The board would closely examine excluding a user group from any other trail, said Sandy Burke, a board member.
Natural Land Preservation Advisory Board members negotiated the compromise.
To recognize former city volunteer and advisory board member Paul Wilbert, the path will be named Wilbert’s Way, Hall said.
Wilbert died suddenly in March after co-founding the Children’s Museum of Durango, now the Powerhouse Science Center, and founding the Peter Carver Memorial Forest. He also worked on the compromise agreement for the preserve.