The towns of Winter Park and Fraser are considering allowing off road vehicles (ORV) onto our streets, alleys and roads. This one calls for careful consideration. It’s up to us, okay, the people we elected, how this region will grow and this decision has the potential to really change the vibe around here.
It’s not that I don’t like people scooting about in these things, I just don’t think they should do it in our backyard. That’s right, I’m a NIMBY on this one and proud of it. I’d put quality of life in front of growth and profit , especially when it comes to impacts like ORVs.
Careful consideration is in order. This is a genie that will be difficult to get back in the bottle once we let it out.
We have a lot of dirt roads around here. If ORVs are allowed on our dirt roads close to town there will be a lot of dust in the air. If you live along one of our dirt roads you already know what will happen. I know because I have lived along local dirt roads.
Talk to any landowner or renter along one of our dirt roads and they will tell you that people go way too fast and there’s already way too much dust. Add a bunch of zippy ORVs and you have a formula for unhappy residents.
ORVs beat up the roads almost as badly as cars and truck. Washboards? They will worsen. Ruts? Bigger. Potholes? Deeper.
Although local road crews do their best to maintain our dirt roads with grading and magnesium chloride treatments, that stuff wears off pretty quick. They will have to do maintenance more often. Locals will have to pay.
Walking a dog? Watch out. Kids on bikes? Keep them back. Moose? Run!
I lived just outside the Town of Marble, Colorado until quite recently. ORVs were let onto the roads recently and the town will never be the same. Marble is often a noisy, dusty mess and many of the fine people who live in Marble full and part-time will tell you that their quality of life has worsened as a result of having ORVs buzzing everywhere. The don’t like it and a visit in the summer will show you why (unless you just rented an ORV to blaze up to the Crystal Mill).
There’s a recent Daily Sentinel article titled, “Marble-area residents seek solutions to crowds.” Every word of this article should be read by Fraser Valley residents before they consider this idea, but here’s a taste.
“This town of not much more than 100 residents and the mountains surrounding it are experiencing a summertime recreational surge that is leaving some residents reminiscing about what used to be while seeking answers to how some of the less delightful tourism impacts should be addressed. The experience is serving as yet one more example of how special spots in Colorado are besieged by a degree of visitation no one ever anticipated, raising management questions far more quickly than they can be answered.”
One resident called the impacts of ORVs in the neighborhood “a catastrophe.”
I put a link to the local ORV survey on my Facebook page. Lot’s of folks had not heard about this. It’s not surprising that 40 percent of the respondents who have responded to the survey are from out of the valley and all of them support the idea. We can’t let Winter Park and Fraser decide this issue based on the opinions of folks who want to come blast around in their ORVs.
Here’s a sampling of what people said on my post in response to hearing about this issue:
“Totally obnoxious noise, dust and exhaust pollution first thing in the morning and throughout the day until dark.”
“I am curious who “presented the request?” Any word?”
“Sure, they don’t have to live with them or really care about our wildlife and serenity. We need to be more environmentally conscious, not less.”
“Used to be able to ride the phases via motobike, I believe a lot of those singletrack trails were created by moto bikes and as the story goes moto and no moto bikers lived happily in harmony riding the same trails. Until one day a darkness swept the land and a group of greedy mountain bikers rose up against the motards. They had to have the trails to themselves so complaints were made papers were filed and voila. All the trails became non motorized. The End.”
We have control of our destiny and we should learn from the lessons that have fallen all around us. Aspen is a great teacher because in terms of growth, tourism, and real estate, it is decades ahead of Winter Park.
A recent article in Aspen Peak by Amy White Beazley is titled, “Loving Aspen to Death.” In it she says, “After millions of dollars spent on marketing Aspen as a mountain paradise, Aspen is showing signs of being loved to death. Visits to the Maroon Bells have nearly doubled in the last five years; 2019 was the busiest ski season in 20 years and community grumbling has reached a noticeable new decibel. Some may say Aspen is not nearly “full,” but despite numbers, when “tourism impacts the perceived quality of life in a negative way,” that’s the definition of a phenomenon called overtourism, according to the World Tourism Organization. Simply put, Aspen is falling victim to its own success.”
Slow down out there! What’s the hurry? Let’s make sure the people that are here now can stay before we sell out to the highest bidders. Let’s not let everyone love us to death.
Steve Skinner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.