Hot Sulphur begins planning for Himebaugh Valley
Hot Sulphur Springs kicked off planning for the recently purchased 270 acre Jones Creek Ranch conservation easement with a public meeting on Thursday.
Tentatively called Himebaugh Valley, Hot Sulphur Springs invested in the property to further recreation opportunities in town. On Thursday, town officials and residents met to discuss potential uses for the land with a goal of having a draft management plan by the fall.
“The purpose of the land management plan is basically to guide the town’s management of public use of the property, to be consistent with the terms and values of the easement, provide recreation opportunities and protect scenic and natural values,” Trustee Dan Nolan said. “
According to Colorado Headwaters Land Trust Executive Director Jeremy Krones, the conservation easement will protect the land from development and division for perpetuity.
Permitted uses of the land include recreation and agriculture, though motorized recreation is prohibited. Currently, at least one local rancher has a grazing lease for the easement that the town plans to continue.
The town has also installed signage to warn users that hunting, shooting firearms, campfires, camping and unleashed pets are not allowed.
Krones said the easement allows for up to four miles of trail, with more possible with the permission from the land trust.
“All of the trails have to be constructed sustainably, using professional trail building associations,” Krones said. “We’ll be working with (the Headwaters Trails Alliance) and others to construct these trails in a smart and sustainable way.”
What is still to be decided is where the trails will go and which kind of recreation will be allowed. One example brought up on Thursday was ebikes, which are allowed under the easement, but not in the adjacent Arapaho National Forest.
The land also acts as a transitional migration corridor for deer and elk, which may mean the town looks into wildlife fencing on the property.
Additionally, the management plan will flesh out how recreation, grazing and maintaining the wildlife corridor will coexist on the land and how else the land could provide value. Nolan suggested the trails could feature signage about the environmental and historical elements of the property.
Access to the property was another key part of the conversation, with the town looking to place the main trailhead off Cottonwood Pass, where there’s space to build parking, a trailhead kiosk and other amenities.
Some concerned homeowners nearby other access points to the property urged the town to make the main trailhead accessible so that visitors don’t cause traffic issues in more residential areas.
Lastly, the town is considering annexation of the property into town limits.
Nolan said the town is seeking comments from the US Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, surrounding homeowners and residents to help shape the upcoming management plan.
Anyone wanting to comment on the land should send in remarks by Aug. 16. Comments can be sent to P.O. Box 116, Hot Sulphur Springs, CO 80451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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