Rocky Mountain National Park Offers Another Chance To Comment On Proposed Multi-Use Path

Rocky Mountain National Park officials, who are considering a 15.5-mile-long multi-use trail from the Fall River Entrance to Sprague Lake, are offering you another chance to comment on the proposal.

The trail would pass the Aspenglen, Moraine Park, and Glacier Basin campgrounds along the way. A 2009 feasibility study identified potential trails that would generally follow the existing park roads. As currently envisioned, the trail might be attached to existing roads, might be separated slightly, or may extend away from the road. The idea is to create a pathway similiar to one in Grand Teton National Park that parallels the Teton Park Road.

As envisioned, it could provide connections to three visitor centers, three campgrounds, and numerous hiker shuttle stops. The National Park Service is continuing the planning process with the development of a Multiuse Trail Plan/EA, which will examine possible options for multiuse trail alignments and analyze potential environmental impacts.

Park officials see this proposal as one way to expand bike access to Rocky Mountain. As described in park documents, the trail would not only connect with campgrounds inside the park, but also tie into multi-use trails managed by the Town of Estes Park and the Estes Valley Recreation and Park District.

Possible issues that might merit consideration include impacts on vegetation and wildlife, whether the park can afford the cost of installing the trail as well as maintaining it down through the years, would such a trail lead to demands for similar trails elsewhere in the park, would dogs be allowed on it, would it be groomed in winter for cross-country skiing, and would it set a precedent for allowing mountain bikes on other trails both in Rocky Mountain and elsewhere in the National Park System?

A public meeting earlier this year introduced the background of this project as well as the purpose of and need for the trail system. Based on the public comments received following that meeting, the 2009 feasibility study, and further field reconnaissance, two potential alternative trail alignments have been identified, along with an alternative that would maintain the status quo. The upcoming meeting will provide the public with a project update and an opportunity to comment on the alternatives developed thus far.

This second public scoping meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 6, from 4:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. at the Estes Park Museum, located at 200 4th Street, Estes Park, Colorado. There will be a short presentation at 5 p.m., and park staff and the consultant will be available to answer questions until 6:15 p.m.; however, the public is invited to visit at any point during the scheduled time to review materials and provide written comments.

More details about the project can be found on the National Park Service Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website. Written comments are requested by the end of the public scoping period on Friday, August 23.

Although the preferred method to submit comments is through the PEPC website, written comments may be submitted in several ways:

* Comment forms will be available at the public meeting and can be given to park staff at the meeting or mailed later.

* By mail: Superintendent, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO 80517

* By fax: (970) 586-1397

* By email:

* Hand-deliver: Rocky Mountain National Park Headquarters, 1000 Highway 36, Estes Park, Colorado.

Once the scoping period concludes, all comments submitted will be considered. There will be an additional opportunity to comment on the Plan/EA when it is released for public review and comment in late spring 2014.