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Three Springs access to County Road 235 not so public

As planned, the new connector trail will begin on Three Springs Village II land and head over toward County Road 235 across the land labeled “La Plata County.” (Nifty Action Line illustration/La Plata GIS)

Dear Action Line: County Road 235 is a short road off County Road 234 that goes toward the Spur Line Trails of Three Springs. However, the road apparently goes through a sliver of private land.

Recently, someone put a lock on the entrance to the Spur Line Trail system. Also, there are “No Trespassing” signs entering this sliver of land. It was my understanding one could bicycle through this property as long as one stays on the road.

How is this legal that this landowner deny access to public bicycling and walking trails by putting a lock on the main gate at the entrance? – Perplexed Cyclist

Dear Perplexed: OK, we have a lot to unwind here.

There are some misconceptions that many people, Action Line included, have made about this land and road. But there’s some good news in all this. Let’s see, where to start. OK …

First off, County Road 235, heading west from County Road 234, ends before it gets to Three Springs. The property owner past County Road 235 to the west – Infinite Investments Inc., according to the La Plata County Geographic Information System website – has granted the developer of Three Springs an easement for emergency access across this private land, said Tim Zink, senior asset manager with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s GF Properties Group. Zink emphasized this is not public access.

Here’s the good news: After the gate was locked several months ago, Zink said, the Three Springs Metro District began working with La Plata County to obtain a license agreement to add a bicycle/pedestrian trail connection between the Spur Line Trails and County Road 235. This connection would be cross county-owned land. County commissioners approved this agreement on Oct. 10.

There is no set date on when this trail, which will be built and maintained by Three Springs, will be constructed. An alignment for the trail is being worked on.

So, there is no “entrance,” per se, to the Spur Line Trails from the east. The trails are accessed on the south end off Wilson Gulch Drive, a short distance from where Wilson Gulch Drive turns from pavement to gravel. Zink said no provisions have been made for a second trailhead off County Road 235.

The gate in question actually has two gates. One for vehicles has been locked for years, and probably decades. There is also a smaller gate next to it for people. That gate had been unlocked until several months ago, when someone put a lock on it. That lock coincided with an increase in people setting up camps in the area. Zink said his understanding is that “it is within the landowner’s rights to lock the gate.”

Zink also pointed out that the Three Springs trails themselves are not on public land. There is a license agreement between the Three Springs Metro District and the developer, the tribe-owned GRVP LLC, to make them available to the public.

He cautioned that the trails are not a public right, and their misuse (the building of rogue trails or other damage to the area) could jeopardize this agreement.

A landowner has locked this gate and posted a “No Trespassing” sign on an access road that eventually connects with County Road 235 but crosses private land first. (Courtesy photo)

On a final note, Perplexed Cyclist informed Action Line that the lock had recently been removed, and that’s how it was the last time Action Line checked.

Dear Action Line: There has been a recent increase in home burglaries at the north end of Durango (confirmed by a city employee in the know), yet police calls don’t seem to show up in the Herald “blotter.” How come? – Behind Locked Doors

Dear BLD: Action Line will leave crime trends to crime reporters and the police, but let’s tackle the question of why not everything shows up in The Durango Herald’s police blotter.

One is that the Herald does not print everything in the blotter that it receives from law enforcement.

The bigger reason in this case might be that not every police call – responded to by the Durango Police Department or La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, for instance – ends up in the report handed to the Herald.

Action Line asked Chris Maker, the Herald’s editorial assistant who generally handles the blotter, for a bit more insight. Maker found only one burglary from the last two weeks, and it was on County Road 309A southeast of Durango.

“The reason the increase may not show up in the blotter is that (law enforcement) does not approve every report for release,” Maker said. “We see large gaps in the entries on a regular basis. Not only are there blank spots, they no longer include report notes or addresses of arrests made by the La Plata County Sheriff.”

Maker suggested that residents who want more information about community crime trends should consider speaking with “the law enforcement officers and city officials in charge of creating the rules around the dissemination of this information.”

In other words, the Herald can only print the information it receives.

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. OK sports fans, so the Broncos are only in it now for the high draft pick, but the Avs are looking good and the Nuggets begin the season Tuesday.