Wednesday, December 11, 2019

County collaborating with BLM for Hartman Rocks road work

Focus would be on early spring trail access points, parking

By Katherine Nettles

Hartman Rocks Recreation Area in the future may be even more inviting to early-season enthusiasts who are ready to trade in their skis for bikes at the onset of spring. The Gunnison County commissioners have agreed to pursue a cooperative effort with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to improve the road at Hartman Rocks and offer earlier spring access to the area.

The Gunnison County portion of the project includes hauling and spreading gravel from the start of the road at McCabe Lane, extending to the base area parking lot on Gold Basin Road. The road is under a maintenance agreement between the county and the BLM.

The commissioners committed to providing county equipment and manpower, while a $250,000 grant secured by the BLM will provide for the materials. The project could take place this fall.

Marlene Crosby, director of Gunnison County Public Works, presented the opportunity to the county on May 7, and explained that Kristi Murphy, outdoor recreation planner at the BLM Gunnison Field Office, had secured funds for improving the road.

The project will relocate a whole section of “Main Street,” according to Crosby, and put gravel down on the rest of the road. Main Street is the primary dirt road down the hill from Kill Hill that turns left toward Joshos trail. It is frequently rutted and muddy.

“There really aren’t good places to ride in early spring, and people are trying to ride. It impacts conditions,” said Crosby. To extend that season, she suggested, it would be helpful to get Hartman Rocks opened earlier, “especially when a lot Hartman’s is muddy and a lot of the other areas are closed for sage grouse [protected habitat].”

The commissioners commended the idea.

“Our communities use that recreation part [of the area] significantly. If we could open it earlier and cut down on the issues with mud and people trying to get in there and just creating more damage … a hard road and a better surface, that makes sense to me,” said commissioner Roland Mason.

“It supports other things that we’ve been investing in, like number one, how do we concentrate use of places like that in the spring, so we aren’t pushing wildlife out, and [creating] sage grouse issues,” said commissioner Jonathan Houck. “All of this is north of the power line so it is well within the agreements that we’ve been part of with the CCA,” he continued, referring to the Candidate Conservation Agreement with the Forest Service to protect sage grouse habitat. “It gives people a place to be.”

With the commissioners’ blessing in place, Crosby will be back to the board soon with a document reflecting the agreement.

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