Golden Horseshoe Backcountry Protection Strategy

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Golden Horseshoe

The Golden Horseshoe Backcountry Protection Strategy project (Golden Horseshoe Project) was implemented to assess the natural and visual resources, the trail and road network and the land status of an 8,642-acre parcel located northeast of Breckenridge, Colorado. This assessment culminated with recommended management strategies that integrate open space preservation, resource protection, and recreation management for the project area.

The twelve-month study revealed that views of the Golden Horseshoe from selected points in Summit County are highly-valued by the public; trail use and trailhead use in the project area is high; unique natural resources are encompassed within the Golden Horseshoe’s borders; and the pattern of land ownership continues to impact preservation and recreation management. An analysis of land ownership indicates that 52% of the project area are federal lands, 43% are privately-owned, and the remainder is property of the Town of Breckenridge and Summit County.

Throughout the study of the Golden Horseshoe Project Area, three reoccurring themes were identified:

1) The open-space values of the Golden Horseshoe warrant protection.
Each component of the Golden Horseshoe study recommends immediate action to protect open space values before they are compromised or lost. Development pressures are present along the adjacent travel corridors and is proceeding into the interior of the project area. While joint efforts by Summit County government and the Town of Breckenridge have succeeded in protecting almost 400 acres of open space, it is unrealistic to rely solely on acquisition for protection.

2) Protection of open spaces in the Golden Horseshoe includes management actions.
Each resource assessment in this study includes a recommendation for management activities to protect the open space values in the Golden Horseshoe. Comprehensive management policies and practices provide long-term protection for open space values. Since land ownership is often independent of natural divisions of land, a cooperative approach to management is recommended and should include Summit County Government, the Town of Breckenridge, the Forest Service and persons with interests in the Golden Horseshoe.

3) Additional studies in the Golden Horseshoe are required.
The Golden Horseshoe Project has made major contributions to the information base regarding four primary resources: visual qualities, trails, natural resources and land status in the Golden Horseshoe. The study is considered a “first step.” Due to time and financial constraints imposed by the grant, several areas critical to informed decisions were not included. Studies to complete the information bases are warranted and should be pursued.