Red River area 4×4 roads tar­geted for re­pairs, main­te­nance soon

The Taos News - - VALLE VISTA - By Ellen Miller Goins San­gre de Cristo Chron­i­cle

Par­tic­i­pants in the third Red River Roads Stew­ard­ship Col­lab­o­ra­tive Work­shop have nar­rowed area 4×4 roads tar­geted for re­pairs and main­te­nance. In ad­di­tion to the Old Red River Pass (For­est Road 480), the group’s top pri­or­i­ties are Fourth of July Canyon (For­est Road

490), Goose Lake (For­est Road

486) and Gree­nie Peak (For­est Road 54).

The re­main­ing roads in the ini­tial list of pop­u­lar roads — Cabresto Lake (For­est Road

134), Flag Moun­tain Road and Pi­o­neer Creek (For­est Road 485) — are still part of long-term plans but re­ceived fewer votes from the group, which in­cluded busi­ness own­ers and pub­lic of­fi­cials from Red River and Taos Ski Val­ley, as well as Amigos Bravos, Na­tional For­est Foun­da­tion and Car­son Na­tional For­est/Questa Ranger Dis­trict. No one from the Vil­lage of Questa at­tended.

Dur­ing the Col­lab­o­ra­tive’s third meet­ing Wed­nes­day (Oct.

10) at the Red River Con­fer­ence Cen­ter, Jack Lewis, Dis­trict Ranger, Questa Dis­trict, Car­son Na­tional For­est, wel­comed the group, not­ing, “We’ve come a long ways since the first time this group got to­gether: com­mu­nity in­volve­ment, com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tion. There’s some big ques­tions with a lot of these roads.”

In the first meet­ing, held in May 2018, Lewis said his dis­trict was look­ing at at least $2 mil­lion in re­pairs with not enough fund­ing to com­plete re­pairs:.

“The rea­son why we need com­mu­nity sup­port, if we’re go­ing to go look for money … a united front looks a lot bet­ter.”

At­ten­dees at that first meet­ing took his words to heart: Lo­cals formed the Red River Off-Road Coali­tion, a 501(c)(3) non­profit in June.

In a tele­phone in­ter­view with The Chron­i­cle, newly elected Pres­i­dent Chris Green said the group formed, “to as­sist the For­est Ser­vice with main­te­nance and re­pairs of Red River­area trails.”

The group of about 25 mem­bers in­cludes 4×4 tour and rental op­er­a­tors in Red River and other busi­ness own­ers and lo­cals.

Since its for­ma­tion, the group has met mul­ti­ple times. The Old Red River Pass is the group’s top pri­or­ity.

“All the trails need re­pairs, but that one is closed and we need to get it open,” Green said. “We’ve had engi­neers look at it with the For­est Ser­vice, and we have an op­er­at­ing plan that is pend­ing their ap­proval. We’re still hope­ful that we’ll get it re­paired be­fore win­ter.”

At the Oct. 10 meet­ing, Red River Mayor Linda Cal­houn, who is also a busi­ness owner, said, “Many years ago, Jeep tour op­er­a­tors were in­volved with main­te­nance.”

Some­where along the way, that part­ner­ship ended Cal­houn noted.

“One of the big wake-up-calls was when Mid­dle Fork closed. When the Old Pass closed, that’s what a lot of peo­ple thought of. It’s ex­cit­ing to see peo­ple in­volved with the Off-Road Coali­tion.”

Elena Fer­nan­dez, projects as­so­ciate for Amigos Bravos, a statewide wa­ter con­ser­va­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion head­quar­tered in Taos, said her or­ga­ni­za­tion is be­hind re­pair ef­forts be­cause of the dan­ger poorly main­tained roads pose to the wa­ter­shed.

“We need to main­tain the roads to pre­vent (new) user-cre­ated roads.”

Ac­cord­ing to Car­son Na­tional For­est Civil En­gi­neer Mando De La Cruz, other than Gree­nie Peak Road, which has a higher main­te­nance level num­ber (ML-3), all seven roads on the orig­i­nal pri­or­i­ties list are ML-2: suit­able for high-clear­ance 4×4 ve­hi­cles only.

Main­te­nance lev­els range from ML-5, roads that are nor­mally dou­ble-lane and paved, to ML-1: roads that are so bad they have been closed to ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic. ML-3 roads can ac­com­mo­date “stan­dard pas­sen­ger cars” at low speeds.

Lewis said Old River Pass re­pairs could cost roughly $80,000 us­ing both For­est Ser­vice and Red River Of­froad Coali­tion re­sources.

“The U.S. For­est Ser­vice will fix the hole, the Red River Of­fRoad Coali­tion can help with main­te­nance. … It’ll be a good test to see how this is go­ing foward over time.”

Green said, “We’ve met with Adam (LaDell, win­ter sports co­or­di­na­tor at the Car­son Na­tional For­est), and we have a (FS-7700-40 road main­te­nance) per­mit in the works and a cou­ple of con­trac­tors (and) in­di­vid­u­als are vol­un­teer­ing time (and) money to get this re­paired as fast as is al­low­able.”

LaDell said, “We still need to fine-tune de­tails on what can be done, what can’t be done. We’re not here to slow up the process.”

Com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors can re­quest a U.S. For­est Ser­vice per­mit to re­pair or main­tain For­est Ser­vice roads

Green told The Chron­i­cle, “We are work­ing on a short­term per­mit (for the Old Red River Pass) and also will have a long-term per­mit to al­low us to main­tain the trails in the fu­ture.”

Dur­ing the meet­ing, Green said, “We’ve got equip­ment and we’ve started col­lect­ing money. We had a booth at Ok­to­ber­fest.”

Red River Off-Road Coali­tion mem­bers hope new mem­bers, fundrais­ing and grants will chip away at road re­pairs and main­te­nance. For in­for­ma­tion on join­ing the group, email rrof­froad­coali­

“(The Old Pass) is go­ing to be a con­stant main­te­nance is­sue, which it’s go­ing to be on any of the roads,” Green said. “The (Old Red River Pass) Road keeps de­te­ri­o­rat­ing. We need to take care of drainage is­sues, so it doesn’t de­te­ri­o­rate any more than it al­ready is.”

Top pri­or­i­ties af­ter the Old Pass

A fa­tal crash on Goose Lake Road in early Septem­ber put the need for re­pairs into sharp re­lief.

So­lu­tions for Goose Lake Road could in­clude:

• Mak­ing the road one-way and find­ing an­other out­let, such as Red River Ski & Sum­mer Area or Pi­o­neer Canyon;

• Adding more turnouts for pass­ing traf­fic;

• Mak­ing the road ac­ces­si­ble for ATVs and OHVs only.

Gree­nie Peak has also so­licited user com­plaints and 4th of July is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­pass­able.

“Just for en­ter­tain­ment value, we took the engi­neers down Fourth of July Canyon,” Lewis said, prompt­ing laugh­ter from the group. “It’s in rough shape to the point where it’s do­ing some re­source dam­age. It’s al­ready sup­posed to be an ATV/OHV road only, but that’s not well-en­forced.”

Julie Ran­dall, con­tract fa­cil­i­ta­tor with the Na­tional For­est Foun­da­tion, asked at­ten­dees and road users to pro­vide pho­tos to help with iden­ti­fy­ing prob­lem spots.

“Vi­su­als help,” she said. More stake­holder work­shops are planned to achieve “the long-term sus­tain­abil­ity and safety of For­est Ser­vice roads in the Red River area,” of­fi­cials said.

‘All the trails need re­pairs, but (Old Red River Pass) is closed and we need to get it open.’

— Stew­ard­ship Col­lab­o­ra­tive Pres­i­dent Chris Green

Justin Whit­lock

Goose Lake Road is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dan­ger­ous as this July 22 rollover demon­strates.

Don Fink

In ad­di­tion to the Old Red River Pass (For­est Road 480), the Red River Roads Stew­ard­ship Col­lab­o­ra­tive’s top pri­or­i­ties are Fourth of July Canyon (For­est Road 490), Goose Lake (For­est Road 486) and Gree­nie Peak (For­est Road 54).

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