The U.S. Forest Service has released its final decision for the Magnolia Non-Motorized Trails Project.
The decision finalizes all elements in the draft decision, including a 44-mile, non-motorized trail system across about 6,000 acres branching out from the Peak to Peak Highway in areas known as East Magnolia and West Magnolia. Currently there are about 60 miles of trail on the ground in that area, including 14 miles of National Forest system trails and about 46 miles of non-system or “user-created” trails.
The project includes building new trail, adding some user-created trails to the system and obliterating all other user-created routes. A total of 29 miles of user-created trails identified in the final decision will be obliterated following this decision, as well as any additional user-created routes found during project implementation.
“The decision allows the Forest Service to optimize trail experiences to meet user demand,” said district recreation manager Matt Henry. “As the Front Range population continues to increase, people are going to seek places to recreate. By providing a sustainable, accessible and well-connected trail system, we can get ahead of that trend, and better protect wildlife and the environment in the process. “
The decision allows for new signage to help keep visitors on the system trails; improved trailheads –including bathrooms and expanded parking at West Magnolia and Front Range trailheads – and facilities for horse trailers at West Magnolia Trailhead. It eliminates snowmobiles in the project area and restricts bikes and horses to designated trails. It also provides an opportunity to groom non-motorized trails in winter for Nordic skiing and fat tire biking – a sport that has seen a remarkable increase in popularity in recent years.
The decision also facilitates access from the trail system to the community of Nederland through connecting trails that don’t currently exist, allowing trail users to easily visit businesses downtown.
Other regional trail connections outlined in the decision include connecting the Magnolia Trail System to the Toll Conservation Easement Trail to Jenny Creek Trail, which would allow non-motorized connection all the way to the Continental Divide on trails; and providing connectivity to Boulder County Open Space’s Reynolds Ranch as that trail system develops over time. However, this decision applies to management on National Forest lands only.
The Forest Service’s regional office reviewed 17 objection letters over the past month, which highlighted concerns over wildlife, law enforcement, camping, trash, monitoring, social trails and funding. The review team found that both the analysis and decision are consistent with Forest Service regulation, policy and law.
“I realize not all people will like all components of my decision,” said District Ranger Sylvia Clark. “This is why I have included a collaborative approach to trail layout in the design criteria, utilizing input from user groups, landowners and other agencies. In this way, we will be able to design great trails for recreation while taking into account landowner needs and wildlife concerns. Furthermore, an adaptive management approach written into the decision allows us to adjust the system based on social and environmental concerns as they arise in the future.”
The project will be implemented in phases over the next 5-10 years by working with partners on both fundraising and implementation, starting on the West Magnolia side of the Peak to Peak Highway.
The final decision, maps and final environmental assessment are available online at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/MagnoliaTrails. This web page will be updated as implementation progresses over the coming years.
WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE DECISION
- 44-mile, non-motorized trail system with improved connectivity and sustainability
- New restrooms and expanded parking at Front Range and West Magnolia trailhead
- Facilities for horse trailers at West Magnolia Trailhead
- Connectivity to the Toll Conservation Easement Trail
- Connectivity to the Town of Nederland
- Connectivity to Boulder County Open Space’s Reynold’s Ranch
- Obliterating 29 miles of existing user-created trail, in addition to any new user-created trail discovered during implementation
- Restricts equestrian and bicycle users to designated trails
- Winter grooming opportunity for Nordic skiing and fat tire biking
- Improved signage
- Adaptive management approach
- Phased implementation