SILVERTON, Colo. San Juan County officials are preparing to step up efforts that they hope will reduce the number of young users of off-highway-vehicles in the backcountry around Silverton.
What most drives public officials is a concern about safety of the drivers. Forest Service regulations require only that drivers be at least 10 years of age. But county officials believe these young drivers tend to be reckless, endangering themselves in the high roads in the rugged topography around Silverton. As such, they want off-highway drivers to be at least 16, the legal driving age in Colorado, and insured.
A lesser concern is that younger drivers tend more toward irresponsible off-road driving on delicate above-timberline tundra and in other sensitive areas.
The first step is adoption of a law that formally prescribes a minimum driving age on county roads. But to put teeth into that law the county commissioners are looking into hiring a part-time staff member for the sheriffs department who will patrol backcountry roads.
Yet another issue is consistency of laws among various jurisdictions in the San Juan Mountains. Many OHV riders cross passes in the Telluride-Ouray-Silverton-Lake City area. That means four counties, three national forests, and the Bureau of Land Management property could be crossed in a (long) day of riding. Rules about OHV use vary, and the county commissioners hope for more consistency.
Snow groomer charged
TELLURIDE, Colo. A sophomore from Telluride High School died after falling off a snow groomer and getting crushed. The driver has been charged with criminally negligent homicide.
Police chief Dale Wood noted that the charge implies that while the driver erred in overloading the snow groomer, the error was not one of omission, rather than intent. In addition to two passengers in the cab, the driver, Aaron Apanel, 26, had allowed six skiers and snowboarders in the cargo area on the back of the groomer. Police say the vehicles have international symbols that say "no passengers" in the cargo area.
Apanel was ferrying the passengers 800 feet up the ski area to an after-hours photo shoot. Ski patrollers arrived at the scene of the accident within minutes, but Brooks "Hoot" Brown, 16, was pronounced dead after being taken to the local medical clinic. A competitive slopestyle freeskier, he had just been ranked 20th in his age group at U.S. Nationals, says The Telluride Watch.
Affordable housing scrapped
MOUNTAIN VILLAGE, Colo. As is the case in most of the mountain resorts, the twin-towns of Telluride and Mountain Village have been wrestling with the teeter-totter issues of affordable housing and open space. The towns estimate they collectively need 1,000 units.