Powersports Enthusiasts Fight For Colorado Territory

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Powersports enthusiasts in Eagle, Colo., are fighting a plan to add 400,000 acres to the White River National Forest's wilderness areas, dubbed “Hidden Gems.”

Although the final decision is in federal hands, snowmobilers and others turned out a few hundred strong at an informational meeting at the Eagle County Administration Building this week.

Hidden Gems backers have asked the county to endorse the plan, which would include closing off areas that have roads or trails open to motorized traffic.

The land at issue spans Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties.

Opposition to the plan has been growing among people who use snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles, according to the Vail Daily.

Opponents gave Eagle County planner Cliff Simonton a Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition report about motorized recreation's economic benefits — more than 10,000 jobs and nearly $950 million per year in direct and indirect spending.

Hidden Gems opponent Hank Hayes thinks there are some basic elements of the plan that just shouldn't be in it, such as Red Table Mountain near Gypsum.

“A lot of our riding area is there,” he said. “And the more areas that are closed, the higher the concentration of people will be in the open areas, and that causes a lot of impact.”

Posted by Holly Wagner