Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

15 Dec 2014

Submit follow up comments after last joint board meeting on proposed trail closures

Posted by Adam Howell


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IMG_0308The City of Durango is accepting additional public comments regarding the recommendations from the Natural Surface Trails Committee, and more importantly, their proposal to close several popular trail segments on City lands.

If you attended the last joint meeting between the Natural Lands Board and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board where they discussed the Committees’ recommendations, heard public comments and discussed the proposed closure of trails on City lands, you may have some questions such as:

  • Why is Trails 2000 on a Committee that’s pushing for closure of several popular trail segments? Or does Trails 2000 even agree with all of the proposed trail closures? (The short answer to the second question is no.) Trails 2000’s Executive Director Mary Monroe Brown told the Boards that one of the trails slated for closure, the Dalla Mountain Freeride Trail, aka the Phoenix Trail, is sustainable.
  • How would the City fund the work required to close and then keep these trails closed?
  • What trails are slated for closure?
A woman rides part of Grabens Loop (slated for closure) directly above its connection with the top of Star Wars Trail in Overend Mountain Park.

A woman rides part of Grabens Loop (slated for closure) directly above its connection with the top of Star Wars Trail in Overend Mountain Park.

Maybe you were unable to attend that meeting and still want to let your voice be heard with City officials?

Now is your chance!

From now until Friday, December 19, the City will be taking more public comments on the recommendations of the Natural Surface Trails Committee. Email Durango’s Assistant Community Development Director Kevin Hall at: kevin.hall@durangogov.org

Some points that this blogger will be making in a follow-up letter to the city, and will encourage others to include in their letters:

  1. The steeper technical trails with freeride features on them are important to a rapidly growing user group in our community.
  2. A formal written process for allowing members of the public to create mountain bike specific trails is nonexistent, leaving trails users with the option to give the idea to Trails 2000 with the hope of them agreeing with it. Either that, or one must present the idea to the City’s Boards who have been known to shrug off trail project proposals until they can gauge the community’s perception to the first progressive freeride trail known as Snakecharmer.
  3. Two of the trails that the Natural Surface Trails Committee are recommending for closure are being discriminately targeted for being freeride-specific. Why is the Committee choosing to discriminate against trails illegally created by mountain bikers, while trails illegally created by climbers, for instance, are allowed to remain? Either way, I’m not saying you should destroy the climbers’ trails just because they were never mapped out, nor were people given permission to create the trails. Meanwhile, some of the least sustainable trails on City lands–such as lower Horse Gulch Road, The Nose coming off of Raiders Ridge, and Down N’ Out coming off of the extended Raiders Ridge–are not proposed for closure, even though they’re the most high-maintenance, erosive, unsustainable trails around. Even so, I’m not saying they should all be closed, but fall lines made of cobble stone or jagged rocks don’t make for the best trails for most people.
  4. Don’t let La Plata Open Space Conservancy’s President Jerry Zink fool you as to what the City can do with lands that are purchased partially with GOCO grants. Specifically, Zink is wrong in stating that conservation easements don’t respond to need. I would refer you to the Deed for Conservation Easement for Dalla Mountain Park, where the reserved right is given to the city to permit bicycling activities, and to amend (read #10) the document jointly with the Conservancy if it’s agreed that there is a need. As for Zink’s comment that it is unnatural for GOCO to fund open space projects that are meant specifically for recreation, I will refute that, as well. A number of examples of open space acquisitions funded strictly for recreation can be viewed on GOCO’s website, including the Valmont Bike Park in Boulder. In 2014, GOCO also funded skate parks, ice rink repairs and athletic facilities to make outdoor recreation more accessible for various communities.
  5. The brownfields versus greenfields approach presented by a citizen to the boards is a subjective oversimplification of what is occurring on City lands. Many of the trails marked for closure on City lands can be maintained and fixed to be more sustainable and to drain water properly. For one, the Hawk’s Nest Freeride Trail can be maintained by users and erosion problems dealt with. Secondly, the Dalla Mountain Freeride Trail has rock features and a minimal grade to prevent the trail from blowing out during storms. Thirdly, erosion on the upper part of Grabens Loop can be drained off of the trail with water bars and natural french drains made from rocks found in the surrounding area that have permeable qualities when placed together. These three trails are marked for closure, yet have erosion problems that could be mitigated. Will you give me permission to do this maintenance?

To view written public comments that have already been submitted to the City, visit http://co-durango.civicplus.com/index.aspx?NID=626

Both of the City boards will discuss the trail closures and other recommendations from the Natural Surface Trails Committee at a joint study session on January 8th at 5:30 at the Durango Recreation Center. NOTE-the boards will not be accepting public comment at their study session.

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