View Full Version : Kelly Flats Article in Coloradoan 5/24

May 24th, 2004, 12:55 AM
Found this in the Coloradoan (FTC paper) this A.M. Draw your own conclusions, but a lot of enviro quotes and not a mention of the Mountaineers hard work over the years to help maintain this trail. Typical.. graemlins/thumbsdown.gif



Residents challenge renegade drivers
Pending rules target off-road use


Residents in the Poudre Canyon northwest of Fort Collins say they are preparing for an influx of off-road vehicles whose owners disregard rules and damage private property and the national forest that surrounds them.

The conflict between property owners and off-road users is increasingly familiar across the nation, but it has gained a new dimension -- and the attention of environmentalists -- as the U.S. Forest Service crafts new rules that could crack down on renegade drivers.

Near the Kelly Flats off-road area, inside the Roosevelt National Forest, a few miles east of Rustic, residents complain of road signs peppered with bullet holes, trash and auto parts and beer cans strewn around, new routes being carved from virgin land, spooked wildlife and damaged trees. The Kelly Flats area contains a number of off-road trails and also sits near a challenging four-wheeling area dubbed "heart-attack hill."

Larry Mitchell, a Greeley firefighter who in 1999 moved to the dream home he built in the Kelly Flats area, is bracing for the arrival of four-wheel-drive trucks, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles expected to come by this weekend.

The traffic will continue until late fall when the route closes.

"It's noise like you wouldn't believe," he said. "On the weekend you can see 100 to 150 vehicles up here. The sad thing is there are such beautiful views up here, but I've only seen a few people ever stop and admire it. They come up here so they can rip stuff up and go nuts for a couple of hours."

Forest Service law-enforcement officer Lenora Arevalos said off-road routes are rising in popularity on 80 mapped dirt roads and their arteries in the Canyon Lakes Ranger District in the Roosevelt and Arapaho national forests." Each year it seems like a little more," she said.

While there are specific rules for the use of the roads, and advice such as "tread lightly," each forest has its own policy, which has caused confusion, according to the Forest Service. Off-road routes across the nation are open for use at varying times of the year.

"Some don't allow off-highway vehicle use at all; some allow it," said Heidi Valetkevitch, a spokeswoman for Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth in Washington, D.C. "You have to check with individual forests."

Bosworth has raised concern about off-road vehicles, which he said constitute a threat to the nation's forests. The threat is especially urgent because of a rise in off-road vehicle ownership. In 1972, 5 million people owned off-road vehicles. By 2000, ownership of vehicles, such as four-wheel drive Jeeps, dirt bikes and all-terrain four-wheelers, rose to 36 million.

"Even a tiny percentage of impact from all those millions of users is still a lot of impact," Bosworth said in Earth Day ceremonies in San Francisco more than a year ago. "Each year, we get hundreds of miles of what we euphemistically refer to as 'unplanned roads and routes.'"

In the wake of Bosworth's comments, the Forest Service has made headway creating uniform rules for off-road vehicles.

The proposed rules, anticipated to call for the elimination of driving off designated routes, could be released for public comment within days.

Groups representing off-road vehicle drivers are watching the Forest Service closely, including the Larimer County Four-Wheel Drive Club Inc. Established in 1965, it is one of the oldest such organizations in Colorado.

Craig Stumbough, the club's leader, said the group has fought to keep routes in the Roosevelt National Forest open to four-wheel drive users. He is already wary of the process.

"The Forest Service has closed so much over the years that we are being crowded into smaller and smaller spaces," Stumbough said. "We're in an urban forest here with Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins. ... If we don't fight for it, not many people will."

But conservationists, researchers and recreational groups such as the American Hiking Society, are praising the initiative and support its aims. They argue some off-road vehicle use has polluted and damaged forest water, air and soil. They say wildlife habitat has been fragmented or disturbed, and it is becoming more difficult for other kinds of users, such as hikers, to find serene, pristine places.

"We're not trying to drive out off-road vehicles. We're trying to get better management so we can better protect our precious resources," said Aaron Clark, a campaign coordinator for the Southern Rockies Conservation Alliance in Denver.

The conservation alliance is calling for a two-year period that would officially designate off-road vehicle routes across the nation using scientific data that calculates the risks. They also want more monitoring and enforcement.

Spence Sedacca, a computer engineer who lives near Kelly Flats, said enforcement is critical. He describes the off-road vehicles that pass his home as the "Indianapolis 500."

"It's not just a few people," he said. "One out of three people are doing things they shouldn't be doing. The numbers are just unbelievable. ... You've got people driving over land making paths through the fields, disturbing the rocks, cutting down trees for firewood."

Stumbough acknowledges some off-road users cause such problems. His club has tried to stem those situations by leading volunteer efforts to clean up areas and to ensure people understand the rules.

"Part of our mantle is to teach and get these renegade users in the club -- show them right from wrong," Stumbough said.

He also notes four-wheel drivers were using the area before it was developed.

"It's like the airport," he said. "We were on Kelly Flats before any house was ever put there. The homeowners want their own private playground."

Arevalos takes exception with Sedacca's characterization. A "few bad apples" cause most problems for landowners, she said.

"A majority of folks we make contact with are good folks," Arevalos said. "It's mostly a matter of education."

Yet she admits law enforcement is stretched. Arevalos is the only forest officer assigned to more than 840,000 acres of the forest -- an area slightly larger than Rhode Island. The Forest Service expects to have a second full-time law-enforcement officer by mid-July.

"It will help considerably," Arevalos said.

The two officers will be supported this summer by several forest protection rangers, who, unlike law-enforcement officers, can't arrest people and have no guns. They can, however, write tickets and give warnings.

Residents want guarantees of regular patrols and want the route near their homes open to off-road users for a shorter period of time. When officers are not around, residents feel they have to make the rules known to protect their properties from dangers such as campfires that get out of control.

"It puts us landowners up here in a really bad situation where we have to patrol our own area," Mitchell said. "It's going to lead to a bad situation."

Originally published Monday, May 24, 2004

The whole article with 2 captioned pictures is here.
Coloradan Kelly Flats Article (http://www.coloradoan.com/news/stories/20040524/news/490477.html)

[ May 24, 2004, 07:05 AM: Message edited by: rmedic ]

May 24th, 2004, 04:09 AM
that is unreal Brain. Sounds like the homeowners were doing a fair share of stretching the truth. graemlins/flipoff.gif

May 24th, 2004, 12:06 PM
It would be really simple if the home owners just took a picture of the infraction and hand it over to law enforcment. But no, they move into an area known to have this type of activity and then proceed to kick us out.

And I hate these damn hikers. I have a bad knee and can no longer hike. So I am supposed to give up my right to access this and similar areas so they can have some place to go. Ummm, hello, there are already a ton of places that foot traffic only. They try and make it sound like there isn't any place to go. I work with a guy that would tell them different. He goes all over the front range hiking in pristine areas.

Xtremjeepn-Cole Ford
May 24th, 2004, 02:20 PM
The article is actually pretty fairly written. They did talk to all sides of the issue and for the most part I would have to argree with some of the things said.

Unfortunately there are many four wheelers that simply make a bad impression and have a bad attitude about it. This is what stands out in the mind of the land owners in the area that see it everyday.

NONE of us here see what they see. We only see our own little groups going up there and hopefully behaving ourselves.

The problem with the whole issue is that "perception IS reality" in today's society.

If the landowners, newspaper, hikers etc percieve "four wheelers" as the problem, then we are.

We actually need to go out of the way to change that perception. I know some people on this board that do a good job of that and I know others that live the sterotype of the renegade off-roader to the fullest.

Comfortably Numb
May 25th, 2004, 05:03 AM
Originally posted by Xtremjeepn-Cole Ford:

We actually need to go out of the way to change that perception. I know some people on this board that do a good job of that and I know others that live the sterotype of the renegade off-roader to the fullest. I completely agree with this. It's the approach I've taken for several years now. But to many you're nothing but another radical envoronmentalist when you try to explain how their actions are wrong. It can get very discouraging to keep trying to correct improper behavior when you often don't feel there is any support for you.

While I don't claim to have all of the ansswers, I believe some things could be done to improve the situation. I'd like to see more law enforcement personnel on the public lands. I'd also like to see the tickets they write count against the recipient for keeping their driver's license & be held against them by their insurance provider. I'd further like to see any action that blatently destroys public land as a jailable offense, but that will never happen as long as this country feels it is more important to jail a drug user & allow rapists & murderers & the like to go free. The powers that be have some very skewed priorities IMO.

It is nice to see more people in the off road community step up & say that certian actions are wrong. But we have a long way to go.

May 26th, 2004, 04:32 AM
I agree with the perception is reality issue. I know the resident quoted in this article (Larry) and he's really a nice guy.

Unfortunatly the end result is still a negative perception in general about all off roaders to the casual reader.

I wish they would have mentioned that the Mountaineers have spent innumerable hours on this trail cleaning it up, repairing damage or the various associations or groups that don't just "fight to keep the trails open" but actually do something about it, I think that would have balanced the article somewhat better.

The problem with Kelly Flats is that in the past 10 years the North Rim subdivision has slowly grown to the point where the actual trail is part of the access for several homes up there. As those of you know who have driven it in the past few years know the road has been improved to passenger car quality from the split at North Rim to past the bypass of the chutes. Even if everyone is on their best behavior just the proximity of the trail to these homes is going to create discontent due to the noise, dust, etc. I don't know any way around it. There is no room for another "bypass road" not that anyone would approve it. REA has strung power lines to the west over 1/2 mile from the current houses to service the private land off the road there and it's a sure bet there will be many more homes there in the next few years. Not summer cabins either but several hundred thousand dollar year round residences.

Add to this the few that decide to drive through the private road that heads North or onto someones land then it's much worse. For example, the primary access for the North Rim subdivision comes off of County Road 74E through a very substantial locked gate. I check access in that area as part of my Fire Department duties and I discovered one morning several months back that someone had totally destroyed the gate which had to have cost the homeowners several thousand dollars. Who knows who did it but in the mind of the residents it was "off roaders" regardless if they were ATV'ers, Hunters, etc. And who could blame them?

I just hope the end result isn't the closure of the trail. That idea has been floating around for several years, articles like this become fodder.

Apprecaite all the comments.


98 Trooper
May 26th, 2004, 10:16 AM
I think the article is very biased. I ride bikes and 4-wheel. Of course we go fast through the trees on the bikes.

These clowns should have checked out the area before buying their "dream" house that was on the edge of an ohv trail. :mad:

I think Kelly Flats has been ruined by this subdivision anyway and rarely ride the trail because of it.

Anyone remember the motocross track at the North end of Horsetooth Res? It got closed because some A$$Holes bought land right above the track and complained about noise. How retarded can you get?

May 28th, 2004, 06:14 AM
Be responsible and PERSONALLY confront those who are not. This is very, very serious shit....it's time to take action.

Do everything you can, before we lose everything.

June 1st, 2004, 03:32 AM
Coloradoan (Fort Collins) editorial May 27

The U.S. Forest Service and off-roaders should look for common ground on road usage rather than resort to heavy-handed regulations.
The Forest Service is expected to release a report for public comment within days that will address inconsistencies in how forest roads are managed for off-road use. But some off-roaders are rightfully wary whether the report is actually a route to reducing availability of roads.
If the proposal focuses on uniformity and helps educate off-roaders about which trails are open, season availability etc., then this will be a positive addition for all trail users. If the regulations are a smokescreen used to decrease the number of trails available for off-road use, then the Forest Service could be acting arbitrarily against a particular segment of the public. Legitimate reasons exist for closing some roads, but the Forest Service must remember that these are public lands paid for by taxpayers.
The keys to these trails are management, respect and education. Off-roaders are only as good as the previous trail user. If users tear up wildlands, wander off established trails, litter and scare wildlife, then all off-roaders are viewed in a negative sense. Locally, homeowners near Kelly Flats have complained about the volume of off-roaders, noise, trespassing and damage to lands.
Hundreds of off-road and 4-wheel clubs have sprung up across the nation to address such problems by working closely with regulators to establish trails, maintain roads and take responsibility for their contemporaries’ actions. Many of these same clubs have assisted in forest fires and other emergencies because of their knowledge of the roads. Off-roaders should know by now that their actions are being monitored by those who would be happy to shut down access to only those who would enter forests on foot.
Federal, state and local regulators would do better to manage the issue by bringing stakeholders together, including hikers, area homeowners and off-roaders, to allow for reasonable usage on public lands. This approach takes time and patience, but it offers the best that government should provide rather than regulations often muddied by political agendas.
Just as road users are encouraged to tread lightly, so should federal regulators in an effort to foster co-existence rather than exclusion.

To comment

June 9th, 2004, 12:34 PM
Originally posted by rmedic:

The problem with Kelly Flats is that in the past 10 years the North Rim subdivision has slowly grown to the point where the actual trail is part of the access for several homes up there.
Yep, and these aren't the "small cabin" variety. I can understand how someone who spends a wad on their retirement home might have a problem with being on or near Public Land, and dealing with what some of the Public sometimes does. So they find a sympathetic journalist to point out "the problem" (for the few), and a sympathetic politician or FS (with maybe an occasional green handshake), and once again we (the many) lose another route. If the fines from tickets given to the small percentage of bad-apple off-roaders went to help pay for enforcement, signage and sign maintenance, and Public education, it'd be a lot easier for us to keep our rightful American heritage-- the National Forest, open and accessible to everyone.
I've ridden the Kelly Flats area for years, and pretty much figured out where the residential area starts, and usually turn back there. I'll come in from the other side (by the 4WD area above Rustic) if I want to ride what's past the houses. If they'd just put up a sign "Residential Area next X miles, Please drive slowly" it'd help a lot, and how about one at the start of the route that says "Littering is unlAWFUL. $1000 Fine. Pack it in/pack it out. Area Patrolled". A small effort like that would have a very big effect, IMHO. JD

June 9th, 2004, 01:23 PM
great work!

June 9th, 2004, 04:07 PM
Originally posted by vb:
great work! Ditto!! VERY well worded, and I'm glad to see that the Coloradoan printed it as an editorial! (I didn't notice that at first with my fuzzy eyes). Excellent!! Many thanks, JD

June 12th, 2004, 03:48 AM
we want to save the enviorment around our 4000 sq ft home. Typical BS from the media jaded people of america.

June 12th, 2004, 03:51 AM
also i'd like to have a house on an ohv trail anyone have one to sell