Sage Hen Motorized Trail Project

Dolores, CO., January 10, 2020 - The San Juan National Forest Dolores Ranger District has made the decision to remove the proposed Sage Hen Motorized Trail Project from any further agency consideration due to the discovery of a Golden Eagle nest near the proposed trail alignment identified during field analysis.

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act prohibits anyone, without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior, from "taking" eagles. Taking is described to include eagle parts, nests, or eggs, molesting or disturbing the birds.  The designation of a new motorized trail within ½ mile of the active nest may result in a taking that is prohibited by the Act.

Specialists with the Forest Service attempted to identify alternative routes in the Sage Hen area in order to avoid the nest. No feasible alternative routes were identified due to steep, rugged terrain along the Dolores River Canyon below McPhee Dam.

Forest Service staff met with representatives of Montezuma County who are one of the proponents of the proposed project to discuss an alternative to the Sage Hen project. In lieu of the Sage Hen project, the Forest Service will analyze expanding the current 52” motorized Boggy Draw OHV system to accommodate 62” side by sides. Montezuma County Commissioners, as well as some members of the motorized community, also requested that the Forest Service provide a local route that would allow motorized users to access Forest Service motorized routes that ultimately tie into the Rimrocker Trail, a motorized route between Montrose, Colorado and Moab, Utah. This proposal would provide a motorized connection to the Rimrocker Trail.

In addition to improved trail access, expanding the Boggy System could attract more users to the area who would access the trail system north of the town of Dolores.  Although OHVs are prohibited on streets in Dolores, visitors will need to travel through the town of Dolores that may increase economic activity in the town.

The San Juan National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan authorizes seasonal closures of critical big game winter range including the Sage Hen area. A similar closure is in place on the McPhee Overlook trail near Dolores. Implementation of a seasonal closure for the Sage Hen area is currently under consideration by the Forest Service.

For additional information on the Sage Hen Motorized Trail Project contact the Dolores Ranger District at (970) 882-6829.