The Summit County Council has thought a lot in recent months about trails in the Basin that are getting loved to death, and on Wednesday the Council took another step to enable the Basin Recreation District to enforce parking regulations around the trailheads by voting to amend the operational policies of the Recreation District.
Council Chairman Doug Clyde said the impacts of recreationists flocking to the Basin is not something planners expected when they designed the trails—or the neighborhoods around the trails.
“When these trails went in, nobody ever contemplated what was going to happen with them, who was going to use them. Nobody could foresee what’s going on right now obviously. This is a very new set of circumstances. It’s not all to do with Covid, but some of it is. But irrespective, it shows that our trails and our public amenities are highly valued among people throughout the region as well as visitors throughout the nation.”
Roger Armstrong told KPCW that they’re taking baby steps to deal with the issue.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to get people to comply better, with some of the behaviors that are happening at the trailheads. Some of those neighborhoods are being substantially impacted by over-use. I suspect that a lot of that use is coming from outside of Summit County, but it’s not entirely outside of Summit County. Also we’ve had some issues with blocking fire egress and evacuation routes in some of the areas where wildland fire is a substantial risk, especially at this time of year.”
He said they will take a graduated approach to deal with violators.
“If you park illegally the first time, you’ll get a warning ticket on your car, saying, “Please don’t do this. There’s no parking here.” And explaining what the law is. If you do it again, then that’s where the fine system comes in, the $40 and $50 fines for violating the parking. Your license plates will be tracked in a database, so that the first time a warning is issued the license plate will go into a database. And if that same car is then violating the parking restrictions again, it escalates to a fine. And if they do it again, then that’s when the car would be towed.”
He said if a citizen is tardy about paying a fine, or refuses, the charge could go up to $105.
Council Members say the issue isn’t just about crowding, but safety. Armstrong said while Summit Park isn’t the only problem area, they’re concerned about the narrow roads there with visitors parked on both sides. That’s a problem for fire access and other emergency situations.
He said another focus is Rob’s Trail, in the Sun Peak neighborhood and the problems there.
“And those range from speeding vehicles, heading from the bottom up toward the Olympic Park, with people trying to find access. Trespass on private property up there. People leaving trash, people leaving bags of dog poop on private property. There are a lot of impacts that we see up there on literally an every-week basis it’s happening. But there’s a wildland interface there as well. So I think the road’s a little bit wider so it’s a little less of an issue in terms of evacuation. But on heavy days, it could slow it down as well.”
At the Council meeting on September 2nd, Doug Clyde told citizens this isn’t the end of their efforts.
“We’ve got a long road ahead of us to figure out how we balance the interest of those people who pay for the trails, meaning our citizens and our guests as well who come here and give us money and we use those taxes for this and other purposes. We have to balance that with the impact to both the neighborhoods and trail users going forward. It’s going to be a long process. We’ve gotten a lot of input. I would encourage all those people to stay with us, stay tuned, cause this is gonna take a long time, and we wanna make sure you’re involved.”