Horse Council of Nevada members leery of proposed changes to trailhead parking


A proposed consolidation of two Mount Charleston parking lots near popular trailheads has the U.S. Forest Service and a local horse group calling for public input. Feedback is requested by the end of this week.

In early March, the U.S. Forest Service released a proposal, or a scoping document, to close the parking areas at Mary Jane Falls and Old Ski Tow in upper Kyle Canyon and construct a parking lot at the intersection of Echo Road and Forest Road 111.

Members of the Horse Council of Nevada are opposed to the plans if final drafts don't include adequate accommodations for horses and horse trailers.

Council president Ed Dodrill said parking in the provided lots already is cramped for horse trailers, which need pull-through spaces to load and unload steeds properly.

"A lot of people ride up at Mount Charleston, especially in the summer when it's 107 (degrees) down here," he said. "They get up there before sunup sometimes to get a parking space."

A secondary issue the council hopes to address is surfacing for the parking lot. Certain surfacing material can be too slick for horses or not ideal for rigs used for taking the animals off and on the trailers.

U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Judy Suing said opposition is premature and the department is still seeking feedback. The proposal was sent to residents in the developed part of the canyon and related agencies March 7.

"This is a misunderstanding of the scoping document," she said. "It's basically an invitation to review what we have proposed and invite them to add their comments. We're still working with designers on how to best accommodate (requests)."

The proposal calls for making a new parking lot near Mary Jane Falls and Old Ski Tow in hopes it will deter dispersed camping or setting up a campsite outside of a campground.

"Over the years, people have left all sorts of litter, couches and other big furniture," Suing said. "They're packing down the forest and not disposing of human waste properly. It's a health issue."

No trails would be affected by the plan, she said.

The new parking lot would be paved for year-round access, and pull-through spaces are being considered, she added.

Horse owner Ellis Greene agreed that something needs to be done about the parking situation near the Old Ski Tow trail. His worry is the proposed area won't be large enough or planned properly.

"If they put asphalt on it, unless it's extremely rough, it can't be used for horse rigs and horses," he said.

Slick pavement downed his horse and skinned the animal's knee once, Greene said. Greene rides about once a week, and he doesn't want to see the integrity of the area he loves get compromised.

"I bet you I've been stopped and had my horse fed treats and had a lot of smiles and talked hundreds of times," he said.

Dodrill estimates there are about 10,000 horses owned in the valley, and he said the equestrian community should be heard.

"It might be a question of what they can afford to do," he said of the U.S. Forest Service. "They have to get creative about the situation. It's just absolutely fantastic to have such a beautiful spot so close to town. We don't want them to mess it up."

Both men said they will submit their qualms and suggestions to the service.

To view a copy of the proposed plans, visit fs.usda.gov/goto/htnf/upperkyle.

For more information or to weigh in on the issue, call Jane Schumacher at 839-5560 or e mail jaschumacher@fs.fed.us. To mail feedback, address it to Jane Schumacher, Interdisciplinary Team Leader, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, 4701 N . Torrey Pines Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89130.

Contact Centennial and Paradise View reporter Maggie Lillis at mlillis@viewnews.com or 477-3839.

 

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