• Andy Hitch

No Permit for ATV Rentals in Estes Park: Why?

Backbone Adventures ATV Rentals has been running under Special Use permit with the Forest Service for many years on Bunce School Road. In 2021, it came to and end.


I have been complaining to the Forest Service for years about rental over use on Bunce. I like the people at the Boulder Ranger District. I think they do a great job. Having said that, I have been, and am still very disappointed in the way they handled the two ATV rental companies on Bunce.


The two companies (mine included) were permitted for xxx rental machines per day on the trail. Yet the Forest Service didn't regulate those numbers. I complained on a regular basis. It went in one ear and out the other.


My concern was that the over use would upset local land owners and other users of the trail. Furthermore, I was concerned about the resource itself (the trail and forest). I'm not a tree hugger, but I do believe we should respect our public lands, clean, and maintain them. As time went on and things grew out of hand, this became a near impossible task.


I like money as much as the next guy, but I'm not in this for the money. I truly enjoy what I do and more than anything, I love cleaning and fixing trail. I absolutely love working in the mountains and helping to preserve our public riding areas.


In 2020 Covid sent people far and wide onto public lands. This exacerbated the over use and our permits were taken away.


In truth, the Forest Service went from one extreme to the other and in the process, shot themselves in the foot.

  1. The over use didn't go away

  2. Now the trails are unmaintained.

Now, more than ever, the Forest Service needs an outfitter like me to clean, repair, and maintain the trail system (at my cost).


The Forest Service has a "Pilot Program" for outfitters. The program is posted on their national website. The program allows for outfitters to clean, repair, and maintain their permitted trail at their own cost, in trade for limited permit fees. The problem is, 95% of the Forest Service ranger districts won't put their own directive into action. Is this not what our tax dollars pay for? Don't we pay for them to properly "manage" our public land? The idea of the program is simple: They manage and we do the work at no cost to the public.


It is my firm belief, and there is proof to the pudding, that we will continue to lose 2000 miles of public trails (by their own admission) every year until they adhere to their own policies, such as this outfitter pilot program. They have a resource in which to solve a good chuck of their problems. They just need to use it and partner with quality outfitters.


Respect your public trails.

1. Pack out what you bring in.

2. Stay on marked trails

3. Fully extinguish campfires

4. Respect other users of the trail

5. Help clean where you can

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