View Full Version : Rollins Pass meeting

01-23-2014, 01:14 PM
Other than what is pasted in below, I know nothing more about this. I am wondering what prompted the meeting to be scheduled. I will plan on attending.

from the Rollins Pass Restoration Association:


The Boulder County Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing for Thursday, February 13 beginning at 5 pm in the Hearing Room on the Third Floor of the Boulder County Courthouse.

The purpose of the hearing is to take public testimony on opening the Rollins Pass Road. This testimony will give the Board important information regarding support for the reopening of the road and will help better define impacts associated with this proposal.

All are more than welcome to attend and participate. The hearing will also be webcast live and will be achieved for viewing at a later time. The website for watching the hearing is http://www.bouldercounty.org/gov/mee.../hearings.aspx .

01-23-2014, 01:15 PM
Thanks, Bruce! I got the same email, you beat me to it. It would be fantastic if a few folks from our club could attend then report back, this has obviously been a pretty hot topic here and one we'll be watching with interest.

01-23-2014, 02:37 PM
I hope all of you Boulder County residents go. They don't care much what we outsiders think, especially when the crunchy granola Boulder types are pooh-poohing vehicular use fans, but if enough of you who do live up there show up and give testimony, maybe they'll take notice!

01-23-2014, 04:42 PM
I went to the meeting they held a few years ago about re-opening the tunnel route, and it was very clear from the Boulder County Commissioner and the Boulder Forest Service lady that was there that they couldn't care less about what anybody from outside their county thought...including the FS and County officials from other jurisdictions that were there. Until there is a strong voice from their own constituency, they will not listen.

01-23-2014, 04:51 PM
I'm a lifetime county resident and I put it on my calender.
I'll let the beard keep growing, maybe I'll blend in!

01-23-2014, 04:55 PM
I'll be there :)

01-24-2014, 10:05 AM
I plan on attending.

01-28-2014, 12:19 AM
added to my calendar too.

01-31-2014, 08:12 AM

01-31-2014, 10:44 AM
Everybody should really make an attempt to make this meeting whether you live in Boulder county or not. this is a great opportunity to show in numbers how many people support the opening of the route. we don't get opportunities like this very often..

01-31-2014, 12:26 PM

Everybody should really make an attempt to make this meeting whether you live in Boulder county or not. this is a great opportunity to show in numbers how many people support the opening of the route. we don't get opportunities like this very often..

That editorial made me cringe. What a load of bs. As if having the road open means people will be driving all over the Wilderness area... There are so many roads that go through areas just as pristine and there are zero problems with off-route travel.

We should compile a list of similar passes and roads that travel above timberline where there are no issues.

Mosquito Pass
Weston Pass
Argentine Pass

01-31-2014, 12:43 PM
Good point Martin, yes, it is interesting and frustrating to see that kind of stuff in print. the comments below are semi heartening though.

I hope folks can try to make it no matter where they recreate or live, the more that are there the bigger the influence.

01-31-2014, 02:34 PM
It's on my calendar. Hope to make it.

01-31-2014, 03:46 PM
I'd be weary of pointing out other roads that traverse Wilderness areas or cross the tundra, you might hand them more data for the next MVUM.

01-31-2014, 04:46 PM
If I was here that day I would go

01-31-2014, 07:32 PM
I'd be weary of pointing out other roads that traverse Wilderness areas or cross the tundra, you might hand them more data for the next MVUM.

I disagree. It disproves their whole argument.

How about Mt. Evans? A cherry stemmed, heavily travelled highway right into the heart of a Wilderness area.

02-01-2014, 02:00 PM
On my calendar as well, I have some green birkenstocks I could wear, if that would help.

02-04-2014, 08:45 AM
BTTT, this is next week!

02-04-2014, 08:47 AM
Here's the Agenda leading up to the hearing:


02-04-2014, 08:55 AM
a bit of learning if you're interested:


02-04-2014, 10:23 AM
Great video, Marco. Thanks for posting this. It was Perlman who presented at the meetings I went to a couple of years ago who made me realize that the "roadblock" on this issue is very clearly with the Boulder County Commissioners. I wish I would win the power ball so I could fund a lawsuit against them!

I will do my best to rearrange my son's parent conference so I can come to this meeting too.

02-04-2014, 09:05 PM
Thanks for posting that video, Marco. And thanks to Osman who posted that on YouTube. He's, "Opie",here on the RS forum and a Boulder resident, so I hope you're planning on attending the meeting man! :thumb:

02-12-2014, 07:24 PM
I went to the meeting tonight. Missed you all. Of course I missed everybody else too since the meeting is tomorrow! D'oh! Found a good German beer joint with happy hour right next to the Court House.

02-13-2014, 07:24 AM
Now that you have the place all scoped out, we can make another trip over there after the actual meeting. Anyone else up for an after-meeting discussion?

02-13-2014, 03:03 PM
Boulder County Commissioners
PO Box 471
Boulder, CO 80306

RE: Rollins Pass and Vehicle Traffic

Dear Boulder County Commissioners,

I’m a lifelong resident of Boulder County, I was born and raised in Boulder, attended Fairview High School, and obtained my engineering degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Today I still reside in Boulder County where I own a home and where I’m raising my family. While living In Boulder County I have participated in nearly every form of outdoor recreation that the area has to offer including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, backpacking, motorcycling, camping, and 4x4 travel on forest roads. All of these activities were mentored by responsible adults who instilled the importance of preserving the accessible areas and respecting other user groups.

Today, when I take my family into the many accessible public land use areas in Boulder County, our activities are much more limited than they were when I was growing up. In addition, most of the 4x4 trails that I enjoyed into my college years are closed today and I will never be able to share those areas with my enthusiastic young daughter. My daughter and I have encountered several closed county roads where the sign reads “Area permanently closed by order of the Boulder County Commissioners” or something to that affect. I think enough is enough and we need to focus on re-opening these areas and encourage mixed-use activity.

When I told my 11-year-old daughter this discussion was taking place she was taken aback as to why anyone would seek to keep us from the backcountry we know and love. She said, “But, daddy, don’t they know that we always clean up any trash we find and we never hurt any wildlife and we never pick any flowers?” To which I replied there are a few people out there who don’t behave as well and who give the rest of us a bad name. She has been well taught about conservation and appreciation of our wild lands. She has learned this respect by hands on experience and demonstration, not by laws or signs. I want to continue to share my passion for the outdoors and overland vehicle travel with her but, more and more, I have to leave Boulder County to do so.

There are many examples of responsible 4x4 and motorized trail travel for those who chose to look. Many, many user groups exist to educate people and support the ecology while promoting and participating in motorized wild land travel. Locally I look at the Middle St. Vrain area as an excellent example of a successful multi-use situation. There I find hikers, backpackers, fisherman, 4-wheelers, mountain bikers, dirt bikers, ATV riders, photographers, horseback riders, and more all out playing and enjoying the land together with great respect for the resource and for each other. The evidence I have seen first hand while enjoying my outdoor hobbies demonstrates that responsible use is the norm and that awareness is ever increasing.

The Rollins pass area is a prime location in which to continue mixed use activity due the history of the route, the availability of existing infrastructure, and the desire of the other affected counties to get it open once again for safe and responsible recreation of all types.

Thank you for your consideration,

Andy Lewien

02-13-2014, 03:15 PM
Awesome Thanks Andy!

I'll be headed there in a few. I am feeling pretty sick so may not make an after thing but i'll try. i'll be on the KTM or scooter to make it easier for me to park.

02-14-2014, 08:47 AM
Standing room only and a lot of us couldn't get in the room. Thank you to all that showed your support to work with Boulder County to reopen a route between Rollinsville and Winter Park. My unbiased summary of the hearing was that the majority would like to see the barriers removed from the Needles Eye tunnel.

Gilpin and Grand County representatives showed their support in opening a route.

The Boulder Wagon Road was brought up multiple times as an option to reduce the overall costs. It was mentioned that the only way to provide a route was to restore the trestles and that is adding to the confusion. Those that oppose mentioned that there is no route without the trestles.

The Forest Service quoted the James Peak Wilderness act as stating two wheel drive only if we open the route. Because of this, the expenses went into the tens of millions to pave the route. The majority would prefer a primitive route and view the 2wd argument invalid.

Liability is a concern for Boulder when the route is reopened. Gilpin and Grand have offered to assume the liability under a tunnel authority.

One thing I took away from the experience was that almost all who support opening the route said so and were clear with their request. Many of the voices that opposed reopening of the route brought up examples that could relate but never drew a parallel to the actual discussion. I admit my last statement is biased; however, it would benefit the opposing argument if they stated their demands in relation to the discussion.


02-14-2014, 09:05 AM
The turn out of supporters on our side was impressive. The arguments for opening the route were varied and showed the importance of the route to Colorado residents and family's with rich history in the area.

This was the first time I attended anything like this and I found it quite civil and productive. I'm grateful to the Boulder County Commissioners for holding the open forum and especially grateful to the commissioners from the neighboring counties for making the trip and spearheading the efforts in a professional and credible way.

I was surprised and taken aback by the Boulder county staffs presentation at the beginning which was shown to be quite jaded and likely inaccurate in several regards. It stuck me that the public and neighboring counties were much more honest and genuine in comparison to the Boulder County staffers.

It was great to see so many familiar faces in attendance and in support of opening the route. Sure made me proud to be a member of RS. Thanks to all who attended and to those who did not, e-mails and letters could still be of help.

02-14-2014, 09:14 AM
I want to say thanks to all the people that came out to support at this meeting. I saw several club members there (Sascha thanks for making the trek again  ).

Overall I think it was a good meeting though it did start out with what I would call a pretty deceptive presentation to the commissioners about the cost, effort, and liability of opening the route. I’ll do my best to post the slides, I took pictures of them with my phone during the presentation. It focused on the issues with opening the entire Rollins Pass road and even showed a picture of the trestle at gun sight pass with mention of the need to repair it if the route was opened (obviously incorrect). Gilpin and Grand County commissioners were there and they did their best to show they deep desire to get the route open again, they also did their best to call out the misinformation in the presentation about expense and liability. I think it was actually Gilpin (maybe it was Grand, can’t remember now) that mentioned they’d discussed with the lawyers and they would assume liability for any issues related to the tunnel.

Andy, Paul, Robbie, and I got a chance to present our thoughts to the commissioners during the meeting and I have to say it was intense at least for me. I hope I was able to assembly my nervous words into some sort of coherent thoughts. Being sick and tired it wasn’t easy. I tried to focus on how opening the route was much easier than they proposed and that those that have been there (Cindy Domenico and Elise Jones had) had probably seen what responsible use and care looks like around the Yankee Doodle lake where our club has worked hard to fix it and keep it nice. I also mentioned to them that the images that were shown of the top of the divide that were pitched as showing off trail use by OHV’s were wrong… they actually show legal open routes and user created routes by hikers bypassing the tunnel and that opening the tunnel would alleviate the pressure on the wilderness area. When I mentioned this and said to Cindy and Elise that they probably know this since they’d been up there I at least got a little nod.. I wonder if the Indian Peaks Wilderness people realize it’s the hikers creating those visible trails.

The overwhelming majority there last night was pro opening the tunnel which was great, only about 4 people against and they were Indian/James peaks wilderness area folks with boxed speeches that were not relevant to the area. I think most of them do not realize that it is all basically open up there right now and there is no off trail use over the divide and around the tunnel which is the area they seem most concerned about. It was mentioned over and over again that it was the short segment near the tunnel that was actually closed.

At the end of the meeting there was a little bit of discussion to answer some questions. The overall cost was mentioned and even though it had been discussed that what was presented was incorrect they reiterated the 9.5M number to open the route. Ben Perlman also read the statement in the Wilderness act about the road status and mentioned that his interpretation was that BC had no obligation to open it but rather the secretary was obligated to only provide technical assistance if it were to open. So he did his best to remove responsibility there. Guess that is expected.

They did mention that they got only 9 emails pro and almost 40 against opening the tunnel, and lots of letters…. I’d encourage everybody here to send an quick email.. even if it reads “please open the tunnel” it counts as one pro. Link to BC public records with email that they had received is below:


email to: commissioners@bouldercounty.org
Keep it cordial and to the point.

Anyways, I was very excited to see everybody there and to steal a line from the ADV rider thread I think there is a glimmer of hope.. IF you haven’t read over there there’s some good discussion.

02-14-2014, 09:31 AM
















02-14-2014, 09:34 AM









02-14-2014, 11:20 AM
I had to leave before my time to speak, unfortunately. I asked some gentleman with an FJ t-shirt and a 10 year old to try to submit my scrawled speaking notes into public record for the commissioners to review; no idea if that happened because I had to leave early. and if it did, no idea if they will be able to read my notes :- )

It is true, the vast majority of those speaking were in favor of opening the route. That made me feel better about having to duck out early and not say my bit. I will send them an email as directed in the previous posting.

Thanks RS4x4 for working hard on these issues for all of us.

02-14-2014, 05:40 PM
I had to leave before my time to speak, unfortunately. I asked some gentleman with an FJ t-shirt and a 10 year old to try to submit my scrawled speaking notes into public record for the commissioners to review; no idea if that happened because I had to leave early. and if it did, no idea if they will be able to read my notes :- )

It is true, the vast majority of those speaking were in favor of opening the route. That made me feel better about having to duck out early and not say my bit. I will send them an email as directed in the previous posting.

Thanks RS4x4 for working hard on these issues for all of us.

That guy was me! I too had to leave early, but I gave your notes (which were legible by the way...they should have no problem reading them) to the Grand County Commissioner to pass it on to the Boulder County Commissioners. I knew they would be there until the bitter end! Thanks for showing up and supporting the cause, Sank!

02-14-2014, 08:25 PM
They handed the note in at the end and it was counted! Thanks!!!!!!

02-14-2014, 10:01 PM
new article in the camera:


02-14-2014, 10:07 PM
Thanks for doing all those slides, Marco! A couple of those are awesome pictures. And thanks again everyone who made it up... I am going to submit an email as well. :thumb:

02-15-2014, 07:30 AM
"Rollins Pass Road reopening remains controversial 24 years later
By Joe Rubino
Camera Staff Writer

POSTED: 02/14/2014 09:30:59 PM MST | UPDATED: ABOUT 10 HOURS AGO

It has been nearly a quarter-century since vehicles traveling up Rollins Pass Road were able to pass through Needle's Eye Tunnel, allowing visitors to traverse the high tundra back and forth between Boulder County on one side and Gilpin and Grand counties on the other.

Considering the ongoing controversy about what reopening the road could mean to the area, and the estimated costs associated with it, it remains unclear if or when it will ever be reopened.

The Boulder County commissioners, in response to a request by Gilpin and Grand county officials to reconnect the road and open it to vehicular traffic, held a hearing Thursday to gather public input on the idea.

About 200 people attended the hearing, according to Boulder County spokeswoman Gabi Boerkircher. And more than 45 of them spoke at the hearing, offering input that Boerkircher described as pretty evenly split between support and opposition.

The Rollins Pass Road last connected Rollinsville on the east side with Winter Park on the west in 1990, when an interior rock fall in Needle's Eye Tunnel cut off the route.

Among those who spoke in favor of reopening the Rollins Pass Road was longtime Boulder County resident Edward Wiegand, who argued the pass should never have been closed in the first place.

He said the "slight mishap" in the tunnel 24 years ago could have been repaired, but following litigation against Boulder County, officials chose not to reopen it and have stood in the way of it being opened since.

Wiegand, who said he considers himself a "dirt bike rider, a jeeper, a mountain biker, a hiker and a hunter," said there are ways to open the pass without repairing the tunnel, including using an old wagon road outlined in the county staff's presentation.

"We're not asking for a new road; we're asking for an existing road that should never have been closed to be reopened," Wiegand said, noting his argument was supported by many who enjoy off-highway vehicle recreation. "This area is owned by the citizenry, and to keep it closed because one county wants to make some kind of environmentalist statement is just not fair to the entire public, not just motorized recreationalists."

Much of the opposition to reopening was based on how it could negatively impact the nearby Indian Peaks and James Peak wilderness areas.

In an email to the board of commissioners, Longmont resident Jim Eastman wrote, "I think it would be bad policy to have a public road running between these two wilderness 'gems' that we are trying so hard to preserve. By allowing unlimited vehicle traffic along this road the erosion impact and the human impact from vehicle passengers in this sensitive area would be huge."

Wiegand called this argument "scare tactics," saying people who run into the dead-end at the tunnel are more likely to go off road and disturb the surrounding habitat than those allowed to continue on through. But the commissioners expressed concern about the possible impacts.

"I have to say I am worried about the potential impact to the wilderness landscape," Commissioner Elise Jones said.

From her standpoint, though, the biggest hurdle to reopening Rollins Pass Road is financing.

In the county staff presentation, it was estimated that repairs to the tunnel, the road — including the deteriorating trestles that support it in places — and a required environmental review could add up to nearly $10.5 million. Jones said there are questions about just who would be required to pay for it, adding that the U.S. Forest Service has not expressed interest in raising such funds.

"I am very aware of the fact that if Boulder County is going to spend millions of dollars on something, this is not at the top of the list," she said. "There are a lot of roads that are first in line to be repaired, including our many flood-damaged roads."

Commissioner Deb Gardner echoed the concerns about costs and the environment, but said many people Thursday made compelling arguments about why the road should be reopened for historical reasons. She said it could take time to arrive at a decision on what to do next.

"I think we're still in information gathering mode," she said. "Nothing is going to happen tomorrow."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328 or rubinoj@dailycamera.com."

This was my first county government meeting since moving to Boulder County and I have to say other then how well organized and professional the meeting was hosted I'm disappointed (not surprised) how slanted and disingenuous the county commissioners, engineers and the public information officer are on the subject. Heck, even the local newspaper can't get some of the information correct.

For example, the floods were terrible, people lost property and lives, but the county is using that as a reason to not fund this project. What they aren't mentioning is the 70-90% FEMA / SEMA will fund/reimburse the county for its expenses to return the county to pre-flood conditions.

After over 20 years of dealing with county officials in my past career, researching this topic, attending the meeting and listening to all the presenters it would be my opinion that this project has a better then average chance of passing, but it'll take a lot of coordinated work and effort to promote and get it passed based on the current political/environment views of those in power in Boulder County.

02-15-2014, 01:01 PM
Such BS...even if a wealthy person donated the $10.5m plus amortized maintenance donation on top of it, they would still keep it closed. This goes along with their mission to close all roads leading into OUR beautiful lands. My 0.02.

02-15-2014, 03:04 PM
That guy was me!

They handed the note in at the end and it was counted! Thanks!!!!!!

Good work team! :cheers:

02-15-2014, 03:22 PM
It was telling to me that during the beginning presentation they said the FS has determined that if a road was re-opened it would have to meet their "class 3" standards...which is why their costs for the project were so huge. It sounds to me like the law references that the road should be navigible by a "two wheel drive vehicle", not a passenger car. I'm just thinking of the numerous dirt roads on FS land that are open only seasonally and require a high clearance vehicle. but not four wheel drive. It seems like the FS is choosing an interpretation of the law that will support NOT opening the road. It sounds to me like 1 million would easily fund the repairs to the tunnel and the needed minimal maintenance to open the road up as a seasonal high-clearance 2x4 road, and the EIS. The 10 million figure is a real boondoggle in the making!

02-15-2014, 05:27 PM
things to remember...

majority of the road is already passable by two wheel drive right now.

rollins pass restoration society has the money to fund at least the majority, if not all, of the tunnel repairs.

boulder county is the devil.

thank you all that went and supported opening this road!

02-15-2014, 06:44 PM
Yeah they were definitely trying to make it out to be a bigger project than it is. The 2wd thing was countered even by the gilpin county commissioners saying "most of the roads in our county aren't 'class 3'". Several of the people who spoke (i *think* including me... i was nervous) mentioned that it was a 2wd road as is.

Rollins pass restoration society reps there also mentioned that they had money to fund the tunnel repair as well as volunteers to help with anything.