Outdoor recreation in Southwest Colorado is benefiting from a change in an operating date, and a much expanded resource.
At McPhee Reservoir north of Cortez, boat launching will be possible in mid-April this year, rather than at the end of April as occurred last year. In exchange, the House Creek boat ramp, a more lightly used access to McPhee, will close the end of September, a month earlier.
The cost of operating quagga and zebra mussel inspection stations has made reservoir management for boating a challenge. McPhee sees more boaters earlier in the season than in the fall, and two additional early weeks at the larger of the two ramps will better match usage.
The effort to halt the spread of mussels has the attention of the Colorado Legislature, and lawmakers this session will be considering an additional fee attached to boat registrations to fund or at least partially fund inspection stations in the state. Last year, the fee was part of a broader bill to increase hunting license fees which did not pass. Standing alone, the anti-mussel fee has a greater chance of approval.
We think that boat owners, especially, as well as state residents, understand the importance of passing the bill.
For off-road bicycle riders, there has been bigger news, with the approved expansion of Phil’s World just east of Cortez.
The Bureau of Land Management announced last week that an additional 22.5 miles of single-track trail has been approved. That was the mid-sized request made by the Southwest Colorado Cycling Association in conjunction with the BLM’s recreation planners. Access will be through the existing Phil’s World trailhead on U.S. Highway 160 and from County Roads L and M, where there will be parking and two new trailheads.
The expansion almost doubles the existing trail mileage in Phil’s World.
The trail routes in the expansion have been laid out to avoid both an eagle nesting area and cultural resources sites. After the trails are in use – which will be this summer – the BLM and ride organizers will be alert to off-trail riding, and to the possible need to make adjustments.
Phil’s World, with a mix of more moderate riding trails, has been very popular with both Montezuma County and La Plata County riders. It is close to Cortez, and on the way to the Montezuma County Fairgrounds, which makes for a natural biking route. Montezuma County commissioners are working to make those connections, and to continue the connecting trail to Mancos.
Mountain biking is rightly seen as an economic driver for the county, and this is an important addition.