Dewey Mountain access approved / Neighbors worried about impacts

Dewey Mountain access Photo0442approved

Neighbors worried about impacts

Rick Langenberg

In a big victory for local trails buffs and hikers, the Green Mountain Falls Board of Trustees last week ended a lengthy controversy and agreed to grant an access route and trailhead to the nearly 150-acre Dewey Mountain open space area, north of town, inside a residential neighborhood.

With this verdict, the trails committee will begin to work out the details regarding signage and a legal pathway off Myrtle Street, offering a connection to a prime recreational playground in the Ute Pass. Dewey Mountain is regarded as one of the most scenic, unobstructed side routes to North Catamount Reservoir and is a great hiking destination in the winter because it receives plenty of sunshine. Since the town’s birth in the late 19th century, the area gained a reputation as a popular historic spot for equestrian riders, scouting groups and hikers.

Currently, the only way people can access Dewey Mountain is by trespassing illegally through private properties, located in the north part of GMF.

The 6-1 decision followed another contested hearing and marked one of the first major issues in which the majority board members disagreed with Mayor Lorrie Worthey. The mayor said she supported the idea of more local trails, but was bothered by the proposed access in a residential neighborhood and cited a petition signed by more than 30 neighbors. She cast the sole dissenting tally and indicated that other access options should be explored.

But most trustees, according to meeting accounts, contended that the access plan was quite sound and trusted the work of the trails committee, who would be responsible for constructing a nearly 300-foot access into Dewey Mountain at the end of East Myrtle, in a section that abuts a few residential homes. They also cited the support of the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation, which owns the Dewey Mountain property. Jess Stroope, a representative of the Foundation, supported the access route, saying this merely re-establishes an existing trail system and vowed to work with the neighbors to provide fire mitigation and to address their concerns.