CONIFER, Colo — Thousands of people have signed a petition and sent letters to Jefferson County commissioners opposing a proposed mountain bike park near Conifer.
The Shadow Mountain Bike Park would include a chairlift and 16 miles of mountain bike trails.
Several neighbors spoke to Denver7 about their concerns with the park, which include potential impacts to local wildlife, an increased risk of wildfires and more traffic than their quiet country road can accommodate. That road, Shadow Mountain Drive, is now dotted with “Stop Bike Ranch” yard signs.
“My neighbors, I don’t know one that believes that this park should be here,” said resident Joe Wienand. “They know the risks, especially the wildfire risks. This is an area that has a greater risk of wildfire than 99% of all communities in the United States. And that’s the US Forest Service that says that.”
“That is dangerous when you have an evacuation, when you are adding 700 trips a day that they are proposing,” said fellow resident Raena Chatwin. “That’s just gonna add a lot of traffic. You have seven [school] bus stops along the way, as well as there have been three fatalities here on this road, this little two lane road. It is not meant for a large number of people traveling every day.”
Chatwin said the Stop the Bike Park group has collected more than 5,000 signatures for its petition, and assisted dozens in writing letters to Jefferson County commissioners opposing the park.
Phil Bouchard, one of the potential developers of the Shadow Mountain Bike Park, is on the other side of the debate. He said he’s been in ongoing conversations with both Jefferson County officials and people living near the site to address their concerns.
“We’ve actually kind of done some material things already to try and address concerns,” Bouchard told Denver7. “We think [the park] is a very creative way to provide valuable stewardship of land and deliver a ton of downstream community benefits. And, we think that disciplines like traffic, and wildlife, and natural resources, and wildfire, and EMS — we think we can actually be a valuable partner across those disciplines.”
Bouchard and his business partner are pledging to perform wildfire mitigation on the entire parcel of land. He also argued the bike park would have less of an impact on traffic and wildlife than other forms of development in the area, such as a neighborhood.
The existing neighbors, however, said they plan to keep pushing their county leaders to reject the park.
“I moved up here so that way my son could enjoy the beauty and the quietness — and adding a chairlift that is 70 decibels is not quiet. Adding more traffic is not quiet,” Chatwin said. “It doesn’t allow my child to grow up in a community that is full of neighbors, to be able to walk through and talk to people and say hi, and be able to see the beautiful fauna and flora that’s out here.”
Jefferson County is currently accepting written comments from the public regarding the project. The bike park proposal, along with public comments, will ultimately be presented to the Jefferson County Planning Commission and then to county commissioners, who will decide whether or not to approve the special use request for the park. This could happen between three to nine months from now, a county representative said.