By Tim Leeds
A public open house was held Wednesday, May 26, to inform people of the issues and alternatives that have arisen over the proposed fence to be built in Beaver Creek Park.
Lou Hagener, a member of the advisory board making recommendations to the park board and the county commissioners, said there has been a lot of confusion about the issues, and a lot of different information has been presented.
County Commissioner Pat Conway said about 65-70 people attended the open house, and reviewed the information presented there. Copies of information about the issues requiring a fence were at the open house, along with annotated photos and maps showing two of the alternatives for the fence with information including proposed springs, gates and cattle guards. A copy of the draft resolution to get a waiver from the Legislature so a fence will not be needed was also at the open house.
The preferred action listed at the open house was receiving the waiver excusing the county from building a fence. This action requires revision in law to allow for it with concerted efforts needed to address safety and liability issues. Speed limits would be established and off stream water would be developed for livestock and wildlife.
A variable corridor was listed as the preferred action if a waiver cannot be secured. This alternative is a compromise between strict corridor and expanded corridor options.
The strict corridor alternative involves installing a fence immediately parallel to the road the entire length of the project, leaving all areas accessible for grazing. It involves numerous cattle guards, gates and stream crossings, with many recreational access problems anticipated.
The expanded corridor option would put the creek and the road in a corridor that would be excluded from livestock use. Loss of grazeable forage and income to the park is anticipated. The advisory board raised questions about the initial cost of facilities and maintenance costs to continue with a grazing program. Haying in the corridor will continue, but other vegetation management challenges are anticipated.
The proposed variable corridor includes major recreation sites in the corridor, but leaves grazing in less developed areas of the park. It uses both existing water and developed springs for livestock and wildlife. There is considerable overlap between the strict and expanded corridor options in the variable option, with large cattle guards set back from the road to allow access to the fenced in portions, along with child-friendly gates allowing easy access by people but preventing cattle from escaping.
Another option would be using cross fences dividing the area of the park in question into sections, which would leave the road unfenced. This would also require revisions in law. This option would allow the cattle to be rotated through sections of the park, reducing exposure in areas of higher use while the cattle are in the park, reducing the chance of overgrazing, and using reduced speed limits and motorist warnings to reduce danger to motorists.
The care of all secondary paved roads will be turned over to the state in 2001. State law requires that these roads are fenced in to ensure motorist safety and reduce liability concerns. Environmental quality and recreation access to the park are also concerns.