BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – Some businesses in the high country told CBS4 a new policy by the U.S. Forest Service could wipe them out.
CBS4 first reported on a story of one business being hurt by the policy in August. Now nearly 20 more businesses say they’re struggling because of it.
It was about a decade ago when small businesses in Eagle and Summit counties realized they could profit from the recreation available there. In August CBS4’s Jeff Todd reported on an ATV and snowmobile company that had been told to stop operating until they were permitted.
Now the popular summertime activity of being shuttled to Vail Pass and riding a bicycle back into the town of the rider’s choice is being put under the same strict guidelines.
“When I talk to the forestry service, they haven’t issued a use permit in the White River National Forest in 20 years. Why are they going start now? They tell me they don’t have a permitting procedure in place,” Alpine Sports owner Thos McDonald said.
For 10 years Alpine Sports in Breckenridge has run a shuttle service to Vail Pass in the summer. This year alone they had over 2,300 customers, and they are one of nearly 20 companies that run that kind of a business there.
McDonald says he’s allowed to employ more than 20 people in the summer.
“If I were to stop running Vail Pass I’d probably go down to five or six employees total,” McDonald said.
Last week letters were sent out by the Forest Service saying Vail Pass bike path shuttles need to stop at the end of the month and can’t return until a special use permit is awarded.
“One of the things we’re trying to get on top of is the unauthorized, or the delivery of, businesses that don’t have permits,” Jan Cutts with the Forest Service said in August. “How much can we manage in one area and how much can the resources take? And then go through a competitive process to allow for that activity once we decide it’s appropriate.”
Every business CBS4 has spoke with said they’ve asked for permits in the past but were told they weren’t necessary. Now those shop owners say they feel like they were blindsided by the de-facto cease-and-desist letter.
“It’s kind of vague about the reasoning behind it other than the fact they feel like this is something they need to do,” Thompson said. “I don’t know what is going to happen. This is a big part of our business.”
The Forest Service on Monday said they’re moving chronologically, working to permit snowmobile rentals. By next summer will likely have issued the bicycle permits.