Today, the U.S.Forest Service announced that they will open a new backcountry access gate into Upper Bear Creek from Palmyra Peak. The announcement comes as a positive step forward in this ongoing, controversial topic. Details are minimal at this time, look for an update here as more info is available. The following is the press release from the office of Judy Schutza, Norwood District Ranger, Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests, along with the map of the new gate.
BACKCOUNTRY ACCESS TO OPEN ON PALMYRA PEAK
Norwood, Colo. (March 16, 2011) — Norwood District Ranger Judy Schutza has decided to establish a backcountry access point (BAP) on Palmyra Peak at the Telluride Ski Area. The BAP will restore public access to National Forest System lands adjacent to the Telluride Ski Area. Schutza’s decision is the result of partnering with the Telluride Mountain Club (TMC) who provided ideas that would restore public access, while reducing the potential for trespass across private lands within Upper Bear Creek. In addition, TMC will assist with public education and information about legal routes and access to terrain that doesn’t affect private land.
The new BAP is located on Palmyra Peak and requires a hike to gain access to the area. A map of the area that shows landmarks and depicts private land within the Bear Creek Basin and the surrounding area has been made and posted at the BAP for reference. Copies of the maps will be available at Ski Patrol and on the GMUG National Forest website and the TMC website.
According to Judy Schutza, “This decision restores reasonable public access to Alta Lakes Basin, Lena Basin, Bear Creek and also provides for future discussions and exploration of ski access issues with local government and interested publics before the next ski season.” Schutza added “Backcountry skiers and snowboarders need to re respectful of private land and reference the map developed with the TMC to avoid private property.”
Backcountry access points leading into Bear Creek from the Telluride Ski Area were eliminated earlier this year as a “good neighbor” effort in response to written requests from private landowners who were concerned with skier trespass across private property.