The Dolores Ranger District is accepting public comments on a preliminary environmental assessment for the Boggy Draw Trails expansion project.
The project would add about 25 miles of non-motorized trails to the trails system north of Dolores. The area currently includes 20 miles of motorized trails and 35 miles of non-motorized trails.
The environmental assessment is available for public review and comment at: bit.ly/Boggytrails.
The 30-day comment period for the analysis will end Dec. 28. Comments can be submitted via a comment form on the website or mailed to Dolores Ranger District, 29211 Highway 184, Dolores, CO 81323. It is not necessary to resubmit comments previously submitted during the scoping comment period for this project.
Based on earlier public comments and additional review, the project was changed to eliminate one short section of the proposed String Bean Trail to avoid sensitive raptor habitat. Additional design features will be considered, including Share the Road signs on Road W and expanding the parking current parking lot if necessary.
The proposed new trails include Horse Camp Trail (6.8 miles), McNeil Trail (5.3 miles), String Bean Trail (4.2 miles) and Nth Trail (7.1 miles), plus connectors.
The trails are designed to provide more options and diversity for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, said Tom Rice, recreation planner for the San Juan National Forest’s Dolores District.
“They go from cruisers to more technical,” he said. “The new trails are in response to the desires of locals and visitors to have different options and experiences.”
The proposed new trails are “stacked or nested” within the existing trail system, he said. Having recreation concentrated in one area helps preserve other areas of the forest for wildlife habitat.
The 5.3-mile McNeil Trail takes off from the existing Italian Canyon trail and travels along the canyon rim, weaving through giant boulders. It is a nontechnical cruiser.
The proposed 6.8-mile Horse Camp Trail loop explores little-known side canyons that feed into House Creek east of the Norwood Road. The deep, forested canyons add a new level of scenery for trail users.
Horse Camp trail also has convenient access from the Norwood Road, which it crosses twice, and it connects to the Boggy and Little Bean trails. Trail users could park along the Norwood Road and do shorter sections of various trails.
The 7.1-mile Nth trail loop, named because it heads north, takes off from the Boggy Trail at the prominent stock pond past the fence line. The easier trail offers a casual ride through aspen forest, an experience largely missing from existing trails.
The 5.4-mile String Bean trail is the most technical of the proposed trails. It drops into Bean Canyon and follows along rocky, canyon rims with great perspective on McPhee Reservoir.
Two of the trails were named in honor of Lloyd McNeil, a well-liked forest employee and trail builder who recently died. He worked with the Rainbow Family when they had their New Age festival in the San Juan forests, and String Bean was their nickname for him.
Rice said during the scoping period there were about 30 comments, and they were mostly supportive of the project. Commenters said they were interested in additional trail options and felt an expanded trail system would help the local economy.
Some commenters expressed concerns that more trails would increase traffic on Road W and the Dolores-Norwood Road. Horseback users supported the additional trails and suggested that signage be added explaining how bikers and hikers should respond to horse riders. Bikers should dismount, and hikers should announce their presence in a calm voice and move off trail. Motorized users felt more trails were needed for them.
The Boggy Draw area has three livestock allotments. Bike-friendly cattle guards would be installed by the Forest Service and local bike clubs were necessary within the new trail system.
The new trail plan avoids cultural sites and was reviewed by the State Historical Preservation Office, which agreed it would have no impacts on cultural resources.
For questions about the trail plan, contact Rice at 882-7296 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.