Feds close access to skiers near Telluride
TELLURIDE — The U.S. Forest Service has closed access to an area near the Telluride Ski Resort that’s a favorite of backcountry skiers after complaints from a developer known for buying property in the middle of public lands.
The Forest Service said it closed three gates Wednesday that provided access to the Upper Bear Creek basin after Tom Chapman of Gold Hill Development Co. and another person expressed concern that skiers were trespassing on their property.
“We want to be good neighbors and discourage trespass,” said Judy Schutza, the district forest ranger.
Skiers can reach national forest lands from the ski area by using other access points, Schutza said.
Last spring, Chapman bought about 100 acres of mining claims near the ski area and closed the land to skiers and hikers.
The Telluride Daily Planet said Chapman declined to comment when reached by phone Wednesday.
Dave Riley, the Telluride ski area’s chief executive, said resort officials have tried to talk to Chapman, but he hasn’t responded.
“The ski company believes we have historic prescriptive rights to ski across the mining claims in Bear Creek, and we intend to pursue those rights,” Riley said. “This is not the end of this issue.”