Big Bend Conservancy
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Well, let them have this trail then and don't hike on it. It's pretty much being built for mountain bikers. I'd bring my mountain bike along and use it. My thought process is that mountain bikers are tax payers and should have access to the inner beauty of Big Bend. I'm not saying that we should open up other trails to mountain bikers into the high Chisos or elsewhere. Plus, it will be added revenue for Big Bend National Park - something that is desperately needed during these challenging budget times. At some point, the Federal Government might have to start shutting down parks and selling them off as they can not pay for themselves - low attendance, etc. Just like TPWD is going to have to do with the current budget mess in Texas. With the plan behind closed doors on selling off TPWD property and GLO inventory, I would suspect that the Christmas Mountains, Chinati, Big Bend Ranch, etc. are all on the chopping block. Wouldn't surprise me if Black Gap WMA was also on the list. Obviously none of these sites are "paying their way" and are a drain on state financial resources. That doesn't mean I like it or agree with it, but the well of money has run dry.
Quote from: bjbriggs on March 25, 2011, 11:54:44 AMEveryone should have access to the Park. I wish they would make some ATV trail to use in the Park.And off road motor bikes and a tram way lift to the top of the Chisos.
Everyone should have access to the Park. I wish they would make some ATV trail to use in the Park.
Quote from: SHANEA on March 25, 2011, 12:52:40 PMQuote from: bjbriggs on March 25, 2011, 11:54:44 AMEveryone should have access to the Park. I wish they would make some ATV trail to use in the Park.And off road motor bikes and a tram way lift to the top of the Chisos. No tram to top of Chisos. But they could lay water lines on all the hiking trails so the hiker don't have to carry water.....
Park Service slammed for new bike trail at Big Bend NPPosted on April 30, 2012 by Bob BerwynWatchdog groups raise conflict of interest issues and fault the park planning processBy Summit VoiceSUMMIT COUNTY — A simmering controversy over a new mountain bike trail in Big Bend National Park boiled over again earlier this month, as the park service started work on the trail before publishing a formal Finding of No Significant Impact or issuing required rule-making.Conservation groups are stewing over the project, which will create a trail in an area previously identified as potential wilderness. They also see a potential conflict of interest on the part of a former park service official now involved with a local mountain bike advocacy group.In fact, the first public announcement on the start of construction came from a mountain bike advocacy group. National Park Service officials admitted that, due to an oversight, they did not publish the FONSI online or issue a response to public comments.The comments were posted in early April, two months after they were finalized and two days after the International Mountain Bicycling Association announced the trail construction.Proponents have touted the trail project a model of collaboration between federal land managers and user groups, as the mountain bike group paid for the environmental study (as is common with ski area expansion projects on national forest lands) and worked closely with park managers to design the proposal.According to IMBA, the addition would create a great trail system for hikers and mountain biking. The organization said in a blog post that hiking and bicycling are compatible uses, and that the impacts of mountain biking and hiking are about equal.The organization also touted the economic benefits of expanded mountain bike opportunities and said the new trail will complement existing riding opportunities, including the challenging Fresna-Sauceda loop.Mountain bikers will help build the trail and have even offered to patrol it.But the new trail has riled up watchdog groups like Our Texas Wild and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, who don’t like the cozy relationship between the agency and mountain bikers.“To create a first-of-its-kind biking trail through pristine public land, without allowing the public to review the FONSI before construction, without going through essential rulemaking process and while allowing an interested group to have behind-the-scenes access, creates a terrible precedent for the National Park System,” said Judy Calman, staff attorney for Our Texas Wild. “This area is included in the Citizen’s Wilderness Proposal and has long been discussed as suitable for wilderness designation.”They are challenging both the substance of the plan and the short-circuited process employed to approve it. Among the concerns raised are –The pay-for-play aspect where a user group, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) and its local affiliate, paid for the environmental study;A previous Big Bend superintendent is part of the business operations of the local biking group. The outgoing superintendent pushed the project over the unanimous objection of his own staff, including 20 who filed personal comments opposing the trail; and,Big Bend already has 200 miles of trails and roads open to mountain biking and there are another 900 miles of bike-accessible trails and roads on state and private lands surrounding Big Bend.After reviewing the decision document and the public comments, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility director Jeff Ruch said it appears the park is selling itself out to a special interest.He questioned the park service finding that construction of a bike trail and parking lot can be the “nnvironmentally preferred alternative.”The watchdog group also questioned the agency’s findings that it could not make more of an effort to avoid archeological sites because there are thousands of archeological sites in the Park and it would be impossible to build a mountain biking trail without going over them, and for declining to pursue that option because it would preclude use of mechanized transport.“Nobody is against mountain biking. The issue is whether national parks should be prostituted to a special interest,” PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said, describing the park’s decision as resulting from a “warped” decision-making process.“Absent a statutory charter, the National Park Service should not be using tax dollars to promote exclusionary recreation,” he concluded.
Multi Use Trail Information SheetDate: May 9, 2012Lone Mountain Trail in Big Bend National Park: Soon, a new way to experience the Chihuahuan Desert up closeWelcome to the Lone Mountain Trail project information page!Big Bend National Park has begun initial construction of a new multi-use trail around Lone Mountain, near the Panther Junction Visitor Center and park headquarters. The trail, intended for both hiking and biking, will provide a family-oriented recreational opportunity for park visitors in a location where none was available before. The project also will include a long-requested picnic area near the trailhead.The 5-mile first phase of the Lone Mountain Trail will consist of 2.5 miles of newly constructed trail around the mountain, and the conversion and rehabilitation of 2.5 miles of an existing dirt road in the area. (A future second phase would add 5 miles of new trail.) When completed, the first-phase trail will be available for hiking. Bicycling will not be allowed, however, until Big Bend and the National Park Service (NPS) complete a separate, required review and public comment process, which is described below.The park undertook this project after several years of planning, an environmental review of its potential effects and a formal period for public review and comment. The location and route were carefully chosen to avoid any park archeological resources. It also is being built entirely outside of Big Bend's proposed wilderness acreage. The park will use this information page to provide occasional updates on the trail's progress, as well as to clarify and answer questions and concerns that may arise about the trail's purpose, including its future shared use by mountain bicycles.First, some background: In March 2011, Big Bend National Park and the Intermountain Region of the NPS issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the proposed "multi-use trail at Panther Junction." After 30 days of public comment and months of Park Service review and analysis, NPS and the park signed a "Finding of No Significant Impact" (FONSI) in February 2012. This formal decision document allowed the park to proceed with its preferred alternative: To build the new multi-use trail northwest of the Panther Junction visitor center and headquarters.The trail is intended to be both a hiking and mountain bicycling path for visitors of all ages and levels to explore the Chihuahuan Desert and its unique resources. It is not designed for high-speed mountain biking or racing. With a parking area and picnic site, the trail will present newly arrived visitors at Panther Junction an ideal opportunity to stretch their legs and experience Big Bend after driving many hours to reach the park.The trail's alignment has been carefully designed to limit effects on Big Bend's desert resources while enhancing visitor enjoyment of the park. Trail users will circle the base of Lone Mountain, with vistas of other mountain ranges and many opportunities to watch birds and wildlife and examine native plants and desert geology. The trail also will afford memorable evening views of sunsets over the western desert lowlands.In April 2012, the park trail crew and volunteer organizations began preliminary brush clearing for the trail route. That work is scheduled to pause in late spring with the onset of very high summer temperatures, then resume in the fall. There is no estimated date for completion, although the trail could be available for hiking by late 2012 or early 2013.It is important to note, however, that mountain biking cannot and will not be permitted on this trail, once built, until special Park Service regulations are completed to permit bicycle use on a national park trail. According to the EA, the NPS must follow a formal federal rulemaking process for this trail. That procedure has numerous stages, including early public involvement, review by Congress and the Office of Management and Budget, Federal Register publication of the proposed rule, and a formal public comment period at least 30 days long, among other steps.All the official project documents, including the EA and FONSI, are available for public viewing at the NPS's Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website, at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/documentsList.cfm?projectID=14611 Thank you for your interest in Big Bend National Park. Check back here for occasional updates on the Lone Mountain Trail project. If you have further questions, please contact (see original source for contact info)
This smells like a trojan horse as well as a "divide and conquer' proposal.This is about more than creating an MTB trail - its about blocking future wilderness designation here and creating a vehicle to do it elsewhere.
And for this reason, I think there is some other reason why this deal was important to make.
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