“We added nine more abandoned machines this year alone”
By Kristy Acuff
In an effort to clean up the scenic highway corridor along the west entrance to Crested Butte, Gunnison County officials are asking for tighter regulations governing abandoned snowmobiles, which currently end up sitting on the county works property just southwest of town at the start of the Baxter Gulch trail.
“This is a scenic byway and this year alone, we collected an additional nine abandoned snowmobiles to add to the eyesore,” county Public Works director Marlene Crosby told the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) at the August 6 meeting.
Currently, the county does not charge storage fees for any abandoned snowmobile. As a result, says Crosby, there is no penalty for an owner to simply leave the machine at the trailhead and walk away.
“We are now up to 21 snowmobiles that are sitting on county property at the entrance to town,” Crosby explained to the commissioners. “We have to keep them all chained together to prevent theft. Many of the machines are in bad shape. … [W]hen an owner shows up and reclaims their machine, we currently have no recourse because we don’t charge fees. Some people have ended up using it as de-facto free storage.”
Crosby asked the commissioners to approve a request to charge a daily storage fee for machines abandoned in the future. Meanwhile, Crosby’s crew is taking inventory of each machine before publishing a legal notice of its sale or disposal.
“The only party authorized to sell or dispose of these machines is the county sheriff,” Crosby explained. “Right now we are working on an inventory, which we will publish as a legal notice for the weeks prior to the sale or disposal.”
“Are snowmobiles registered?” asked commissioner John Messner. “Do we have any way of tracking down the legal owners?”
“No. There is no registration beyond the serial number,” replied Crosby. “We take pictures of the serial numbers as inventory.”
“It has always been an issue,” added commissioner Roland Mason.
“They look junky on the side of the highway and this is the West Elk Scenic Byway,” said Crosby. “Because we don’t charge a storage fee, they just sit and clutter up our Crested Butte lot.”
Commissioners agreed to draft a resolution giving the county Public Works Department a few more teeth with which to take a bite out of this ugly problem.