Letter: Forest Road access concerns

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Dear Editor:

Access to public lands is of vital interest to residents of Rio Blanco county. We have lost some of that access with little knowledge of that happening. Two examples are cited below.

I met with Aaron Grimes of the White River National Forest recently to discuss my concerns. I discovered that the USFS has a document called the Travel Management Plan, approved in 2011. It’s 32 pages are too much for my feeble brain to take on. If you are interested you can get a copy via email.

Getting back to my examples.

No. 1. A branch of the Flag Creek road—This road leaves CR 138 near the center of section 26 and travels easterly to near the SE corner of section 25 where it intersects with Hay Flats road. In 1983 this road had a sign and a Forest Road number both on the ground and on the forest map. Shortly after that year the FS signs came down and a locked gate closed the road. Loss of access. The old wagon road had probably been used for more than enough years to establish a prescriptive right.

No. 2.  Also off the Flag Creek road, but in Garfield County—The Ute Stock driveway which intersects the Flag Creek road just south of the entrance to the Piceance Creek road. Gate locked. Loss of access.

As I understand it, the counties must obtain a right-of-way across the private land in order for the old forest road to be legally opened. This could be easily done in any office obtaining coordinate positions from the satellites.

What would keep the Rio Blanco Ranch from putting a locked gate at Dead Horse Creek and closing off a challenging Jeep road? Nothing, unless the county secures a legal right-of-way across the private land. The same would be true of many forest roads since most forest roads begin on private land.

People with more energy than I can muster need to get involved to solve this problem

Dick Prosence