May 17, 2021
The Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association (CVEPA) supports the Gunnison County Commissioners “Three Pronged Approach” for management in efforts to mitigate the impacts of increased Off Highway Vehicles (OHVs) in the Upper Crystal River Valley. CVEPA has long realized that the unbridled use of OHVs accessing the Lead King Basin Loop brings unacceptable consequences for residents, tourists and the environment. The vehicles pose detrimental effects to the health, safety and pursuit of tranquility to the residents of the valley and users of the National Forest. CVEPA will support and work with Gunnison County in efforts of outreach and education, compliance and enforcement. CVEPA supports the Lead King Loop Steering Committee and their efforts to gather critical data. It is imperative that any parking provided for off road vehicles not infringe on existing tourist amenities (i.e. Marble Town Park). We believe that the ultimate mitigation lies in a comprehensive and equitable regulatory system that restricts overuse.
Every effort to move the United States Forest Service to implement a reservation/permit system for OHV use must be made by the County and the Town of Marble. CVEPA encourages local jurisdiction to use all tools in their power to limit overuse in the Upper Crystal River Valley. The results of summer 2021 must be evaluated by December 1, 2021 as proposed by Commissioner Smith at the Gunnison Commissioner’s Meeting of May 4, 2021. Substantive and positive change should be implemented by Spring of 2022.
Once a hidden gem amongst the many scenic treasures of the Upper Crystal Valley, the Lead King Loop has exploded in popularity with recreationalists of all stripes in recent years. While hikers, cyclists, snowshoers and skiers continue to explore the loop in non-motorized ways, traffic from off highway vehicles has dramatically increased, bringing with it unwanted impacts on residents, wildlife and vegetation, and taking from many the opportunity for a peaceful experience with nature and an increasingly rare quality of life.
While residents of Crystal share the increase in noise, dust, sanitation and safety concerns with their neighbors in Marble, it is that tiny town which has become the gateway to the loop and as such, has had to confront the onslaught of issues that have come as a result of unmanaged travel.
In 2018, Gunnison County Commissioners tasked the Marble Board of Trustees to form a working group to begin laying the groundwork to develop a recreation management plan for the LKL. Members of the group include representatives from the White River National Forest Service, Gunnison County, Western Colorado University, Marble, Crystal, and CVEPA.
Currently led by Ron Leach, Town Administrator, and Corrine Truesdell, Masters candidate in Environmental Management at Western Colorado University, the group is trying to find enforceable ways to mitigate impacts while assisting the Forest Service in gathering data of loop users, a required, multi-year process in developing recreation management plans on FS roads.
While many support the goals of the working group, others in the community believe change should happen more quickly through County action. Alex Menard, head of the Marble History Museum, is one of the proponents for immediate change.
Read the Convening Report that Describes Recent Working Group Activities - Complied by Corrine Truesdell
Parking is a choke point in Marble's motorized-use conundrum - Aspen Journalism article by Curtis Wackerle
Visiting the Crystal Mill: Whose Road Is It Anyway? - by Gregory Staple
OHV authorization will continue near Marble, but clock is ticking - Aspen Journalism article by Curtis Wackerle
Residents of Marble and Crystal say 13-mile Lead King Loop is being loved to death - Aspen Journalism article by Heather Sackett