Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

9 Dec 2013

Public comments on the Log Chutes Downhill Mountain Bike Zone Environmental Assessment

Posted by Adam Howell


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Documents obtained by Horse Gulch Blog last week from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on the Forest Service’s Logchutes Downhill Mountain Bike Zone Environmental Assessment (EA) revealed strong public support for the project, despite a smaller group of commentators that were opposed to it.

Logchutes is an area that's being considered for the creation of a sanctioned downhill mountain bike zone.

Logchutes is an area that’s being considered for the creation of a sanctioned downhill mountain bike zone.

Trail management policy in Durango is among the more contentious topics in the realm of public opinion when it comes to advising land management agencies how to write policies. Public opinions on the proposed Logchutes Downhill Mountain Bike Zone is a case where the Forest Service got an earful from both advocates and people who hate mountain bikes altogether.

What the Forest Service heard from all of those people should teach us that freeride mountain biking has tons of support in Durango, yet the mountain bike community has some serious inroads to make with equestrians and hikers. Also, the public comments should teach us that freeride mountain biking has a bad reputation with some environmentalists who think that the sport has a seriously deleterious and erosive effect upon the landscape.

Those who wrote supportive comments said that the new trail should offer jumps, berms, ledges, table-top jumps, log rides and a longer run than what currently exists. There was also support for the idea of making the trail user specific and directional.

Trails 2000’s President Daryl Crites was a notable advocate for the project.

Among those public comments against the proposal that were submitted during the scoping period were people against the idea of designating the trail as one-way and user specific. Others were against the idea of using taxpayer resources to pay for the trail, while arguing that a Special Use Permit would make sense for funding the increased workload associated with its existence. One commentator said that it would drastically increase the number of dogs on the trail, which in turn, would have a “deleterious effect on the plant and wildlife in the area, as well as the nuisance factor and danger to other users.”

Safety concerns were also a common them among several commentators.

Commentator Jan Holt, of Durango, said that “downhillers never go slow, seldom warn you, or if so,  warn you when they are on top of you and you have to jump for your life.”

Holt also singled out male mountain bikers by saying, “Only the women bikers are cognizant of danger and they are courteous and give hikers timely warnings.”

A story in The Durango Herald by Dale Rodebaugh “A home for downhill bikers?” that was published on June 1, 2013 drew the ire of several equestrians and mountain bike haters who wrote angry comments to the Forest Service immediately afterwards. At that point, the supportive comments of the downhill project still outnumbered those that were opposed.

Lastly, it should be mentioned that the Logchutes Downhill Mountain Bike Zone EA is not done yet, but you can read some of what’s been written so far with a few portions having been redacted by the Forest Service due to some of the information being “privileged and pre-decisional” under FOIA Exemption b5.

Summary letter of Forest Service response to FOIA request and statement on right to appeal

Logchutes Downhill Mountain Bike Zone Draft Environmental Assessment with redacted portions

Supportive public comments made during the Logchutes Downhill Mountain Bike Zone scoping period before the EA was written

Public comments opposing and neutral to the Logchutes Downhill Mountain Bike Zone made during the scoping period, but before the Environmental Assessment was written

Public comments submitted on the Logchutes Downhill Mountain Bike Zone Environmental Assessment after the scoping period

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2 Responses to “Public comments on the Log Chutes Downhill Mountain Bike Zone Environmental Assessment”

  1. Bravo.

    Best post on this blog ever. Good, old fashioned gritty journalism. Congratulations.

    And quite interesting, not really surprising, but interesting. Thanks for sharing this!

     

    Jerry Hazard

  2. Thanks good buddy! We will have strength in numbers when the timing is right.

     

    Adam Howell

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