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Opportunity to Comment on the Vail Pass Bicycle Delivery Outfitters Project

Unknown.jpegSilverthorne, Colo – Jan. 5, 2017 - Local Summit and Eagle County outfitters have provided bicycle shuttle and delivery service to Vail Pass area for many years. Services include transporting clients to designated parking areas and clients riding bicycles on the paved recreation path back to the communities of Frisco, Breckenridge or Vail. Since 2013, twelve outfitters were issued temporary permits to perform this service annually for a combined total of 19,525 user days.

The Forest Service conducts periodic resource capacity and needs analyses in recreation areas to determine appropriate levels of use and visitor safety. In 2015, an analysis was conducted for the Vail Pass area to help guide the Forest Service decision to permit these activities in the future. The analysis concluded the potential to offer expanded user days through longer term permits.

Through a prospectus conducted in February of 2016, the White River National Forest solicited proposals from interested parties to provide outfitter and guide services for bicycle and client delivery to the top of Vail Pass. Based on proposals received through this process, the Forest intends to authorize twelve 10-year special use permits to different organizations to serve up to a total of 23,000 clients during the summer season, which is a slight increase from the current 19,525 clients currently permitted.images-1.jpeg

“Both the resource capacity and needs analysis and the prospectus process gave us good feedback on the recreation corridor and level of interest from local businesses for the permit authorization,” stated Bill Jackson, District Ranger. “It also highlighted the need to consider recreational safety and non-commercial access throughout this process.”

The Forest Service manages for a wide variety of both commercial and non-commercial recreational uses in the Vail Pass area. This proposal is a means to allocate limited commercial bicycle delivery services to Vail Pass in order to provide additional recreation opportunities to the public. It will also provide opportunities for economic diversity and opportunity for local businesses in Summit and Eagle Counties.

The proposed permit authorization intends to provide for the health and safety of bike path users, issue a longer term permit instead of a yearly permit for efficiency, accommodate a public need, protect the natural resources, and provide a quality recreation experience for the public. The Forest Service is seeking public feedback on this project. The proposed action is expected to begin in May of 2017.

How to Comment and Timeframe

Written comments may be submitted via mail service, facsimile, electronic mail, or in person, and comments concerning this action will be most helpful if received by or before February 6, 2017.  Written comments must be submitted to: Scott Fitzwilliams, c/o Ken Waugh, Dillon Ranger District, P.O. Box 620, 680 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne, CO 80498. FAX (970) 468-7735. The office business hours for those submitting hand-delivered comments are: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Electronic comments may be submitted as an email message to kwaugh@fs.fed.us, or through the project page at: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=50697

Persons commenting should include: 1) name, address, telephone number, and organization represented, if any; 2) title of this proposed project (Vail Pass Bicycle Delivery Special Use Authorizations); and 3) specific facts and supporting reasons for the Responsible Official to consider.

Depending upon the additional issues identified through public involvement, it is anticipated that this project will be categorically excluded from documentation in an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement consistent with 36 CFR 22.6 (e)(15) Issuance of a new special use authorization for a new term to replace an existing or expired special use authorization when the only changes are administrative, there are no changes to the authorized facilities or increases in the scope or intensity of authorized activities, and the applicant or holder is in full compliance with the terms and conditions of the special use authorization.

As such, it is important that we hear your comments, concerns, or support prior to the Responsible Official’s decision. This public scoping period may be the only opportunity for individuals interested in or affected by this proposal to identify any potential extraordinary conditions or significant issues before the decision. Comments concerning this action will be most helpful if received by or before February 6.