Reconfigured parking, port-a-potty, increased signage
By Kendra Walker
The Crested Butte Land Trust held two public meetings last week to receive community feedback on improvements for the Slate River Trailhead. Proposed improvements include reconfiguring the parking area, adding a restroom and adding more informational signage.
“Every year there’s more and more going on there,” said stewardship manager Brian Lieberman on the popular winter and summer trailhead that sits at the bottom of the Lupine 2 trail. “The trailhead used to be able to handle the winter and summer recreation, but there’s enough parking and people there now that it’s warranted some improvements. There’s nothing we can do about the increased amount of people but we can try to provide the appropriate infrastructure.”
Lieberman explained that the actual trailhead is on private conserved property, but is the entrance to both Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) access in the Slate River drainage. “The Slate ranges from town-owned, conserved land to land trust-conserved land, to BLM and lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service. Each has slightly different rules and regulations on those properties.”
In looking at making improvements for the trailhead, the Crested Butte Land Trust wanted to involve the community. “The perception of a lot of folks who live here is that things are changing really quick, for good or for bad,” said Lieberman. “But by including them they feel like they have some buy-in instead of things continuing to change without their say. We want to engage the folks who are out there the most and using it, and have them guide what’s worked at other trailheads and feel more respect for the area with their buy-in.”
Lieberman said that about 15 people from the public attended each meeting—one for winter and one for summer—held at the trailhead, in addition to representatives from community organizations. Everyone wore masks and was physically distanced.
“The overwhelming theme was that it’s busy,” said Lieberman on the public feedback they received. “There’s a ton of people out there. If the ski area is closed this winter, there could be a much bigger showing in that area,” he said.
Lieberman said they got good feedback on the proposed parking reconfiguration. The changes would include increasing the amount of parking and better organizing it, particularly for winter use. “Our goal is to provide head-in trailer and single-vehicle parking in the winter, and just single-vehicle parking in the summer,” said Lieberman.
People were also mostly supportive of a restroom, although there was general consensus that other drainages in the valley are still lacking in the restroom department and could use more focus at this time. Because the trailhead is on conserved property, the easement prohibits structures, so the restroom would have to be within Gunnison County’s 60-foot right-of-way. For now, a temporary port-a-potty will be put in place this winter.
Folks were also generally supportive of more information at the trailhead to encourage respectful and sustainable behaviors, said Lieberman.
Although there are no plans for another formal public engagement period, Lieberman said the Crested Butte Land Trust welcomes any other comments, especially if anyone was deterred from attending the meetings last week due to COVID-19. Comments can be shared by calling the Land Trust at (970) 349-1206 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The county’s goal is to break ground this winter on a parking rearrangement and install a port-a-potty. Then the Crested Butte Land Trust will work with the county on more signage and information to be installed next spring and summer.