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Mountain Motorists

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Few aspects of Colorado’s outdoor life stir more drama than motorized vehicles in the backcountry. And in the Aspen/Pitkin County area, officials are planning to pitch a ban that would prohibit electric bicycles on the Rio Grande Trail, writes the Aspen Times. Apparently, electric-assisted bicycles are popular along the trail, which stretches from Aspen to Glenwood Springs along the Rio Grande. But county officials want to ban any vehicle that can accelerate with a throttle. The issue gets tricky with wheelchairs and other assisted vehicles, but opponents are adamant that nature trails be used as much as possible by those on manual-powered bicycles and people on foot.

Motorized vehicles are also a source of turmoil in the Pike and San Isabel National Forest in south-central Colorado. A lawsuit filed last week in federal court alleges the U.S. Forest Service sanctioned more than 500 miles of illegal roads and tracks created by all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, and off-road vehicles with a new Motor Vehicle Use Map (via the Colorado Independent). A coalition of environmental groups says more than 800 trails, roads, and tracks will bog down already backlogged Forest Service maintenance programs and allow more vehicles to run through areas that should be free of motors. Hikers and runners in the group say the Forest Service is trying to “lock in the decades of illegal use without a public and environmental process.”

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