Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

22 Oct 2017

My letter to Forest Service: Avoid violating ‘Share the Trails’ policy, and money wasting bike ban

Posted by Adam Howell


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Dear Objection Reviewing Officer and Forest Supervisor Kara Chadwick,

Hermosa Creek Trail on the way back from Big Lick Trail.

Hermosa Creek Trail on the way back from Big Lick Trail.

This letter includes my formal objection to the Draft Decision Notice for the Hermosa Creek Watershed Recreation and Travel Management Project.

Specifically, I object to the decision to implement a seasonal closure to mechanized travel from May 1st to November or December of every year on various trails throughout the Hermosa Creek Watershed Management Area.

For the most part, these lands have been sustainably managed in an environmentally-friendly fashion for decades while allowing for bikes to travel on trails there.

Most riders understand that riding on muddy trails during the months of the proposed seasonal closure can cause excessive surface disturbances. At the same time, most riders know that riding in the mud is also just a miserable experience that they would want to avoid anyways. In addition, riding in the mud is also known to bind, restrict and damage the moving parts of a bicycle, which is another reason why people don’t generally want to ride in muddy conditions.

The decision to restrict bicycle access in the Hermosa Creek Watershed from May through November or December of every year, to me, is one based on political pressure to enhance certain user group’s recreational experiences (mainly hunters and hikers) at the expense and detriment of cyclists.

It is a decision that appears to be made for the purpose of political control in an attempt to bully cyclists instead of one made for environmental reasons.

Also, this proposed seasonal closure clearly violates the “Share the Trails” policy, which the Forest Service has previously boasted of upholding the principles of.

More specifically, please avoid seasonal closures for mechanized travel on Hermosa Creek Trail, Big Lick Trail, Graysill Trail, Relay Creek Trail, Jones Creek Trail, Dutch Creek Trail and the Colorado Trail.

In a previous comment I made on the Hermosa Creek Watershed Plan Environmental Assessment, I stated that, “’Share the Trails’ is a philosophy that should extend to non-motorized, mechanized travel on the most remote regions of public land, because their environmental impact is shown to be less than those of motorized vehicles and horseback riders.”

I continue to stand by this comment, and object to your violation of the “Share the Trails” policy through the proposed creation and implementation of a seasonal closure of trails in the Hermosa Creek Watershed that have traditionally been open to mechanized travel.

In a previous comment that I submitted to the San Juan National Forest regarding the Hermosa Creek Watershed Plan Environmental Assessment I also stated that “mountain bikes create less harm to the Big Lick Trail than horseback riders, as the hooves of horses have a tendency to create higher sediment yields by tilling and pocking the soil where they walk upon.”

The Decision Notice to seasonally restrict mechanized travel on Big Lick Trail, Hermosa Creek Trail or any trail in the Hermosa Creek Watershed where bicycles have traditionally been allowed during the winter and spring months is hypocritical. As such, I object to this disregard of my previously submitted comments and I object to the hypocrisy of allowing horses on the trails that cause far more soil disturbance than mechanized cyclists.

In a previous comment that I made to the San Juan National Forest regarding the Hermosa Creek Watershed Plan Environmental Assessment, I also disagreed with how the implementation of a bike ban on trails in the Hermosa Creek Watershed would be financially wasteful.

“At a time when the budget for recreation or trail maintenance projects of the Forest Service is continually being cut, it is unreasonable to create a policy that further exacerbates these problems through the diversion of our tax dollars for the enforcement of a bike ban,” I said.

After reviewing the proposed seasonal closure, I continue to object to the financial waste that will occur through the diversion of our tax dollars for the enforcement of this seasonal bike ban.

See page 24 of the Hermosa Creek Watershed Recreation and Travel Management Project here: http://a123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic.download.akamai.com/11558/www/nepa/97270_FSPLT3_4052068.pdf

or view the pdf directly by clicking here: Hermosa Creek Watershed Recreation and Travel Management Project.

To view the Forest Service Objection Period Notification letter click HERE.

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2 Responses to “My letter to Forest Service: Avoid violating ‘Share the Trails’ policy, and money wasting bike ban”

  1. Thank you for your advocacy.

     

    CWA

  2. You are welcome.

     

    Adam Howell

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