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Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail

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Offline Hayduke

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Re: Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2011, 02:45:39 PM »
Shane, do you really believe that this one MTB trail will bring significant new revenue into the Park? When the Park already attracts MTBers with  all the dirt roads and BBRSP?  It's really hard to imagine it having that kind of impact.

And with all these existing resources it sure seems like MTBers already have "access to the inner beauty of Big Bend".

-HD

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.

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Offline bjbriggs

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Re: Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2011, 03:46:51 PM »
Everyone 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.   :rolling:

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..... :rolling: :rolling:

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SHANEA

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Re: Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2011, 11:32:41 AM »
Everyone 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.   :rolling:

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..... :rolling: :rolling:

No need to, but I do like the idea - I'd just be happy with some public showers in the Basin and down at PJ and Maverick .  I have a "find me spot" and just press the "I need help button" - and the new model allows you to send text messages - so I just message the rangers that I need more water...   :rolling:  I still think an outfitter should offer Sherpa services...

 While we are opening up the park, perhaps having a bambi season would be good too.   :icon_eek:  Hunters will spend mega bucks to go hunting - set up some corn feeders to lure them in, deer stands on the horizon,  ATV's rocking around, and of course the sound of shots cracking the air.   :rolling: 

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Offline Lorax

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Re: Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2011, 01:32:16 PM »
As a mountain biker and hiker, I have no problem with an MTB trail.  This type of trail will be different from "riding the dirt roads" as it will provide an opportunity for education.  Most members of this board take a stewardship role in Big Bend.  Part of the design of the educational programs in a National Park is to foster stewardship.  Young riders / new riders will be the perfect target for this trail.  MTB riders who appreciate the fragile nature of the environment in which they ride are better able to take care of it.  This eduction benefit goes beyond the park.

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2012, 04:54:52 PM »
Hadn't seen any updates on this proposal in a while until this popped up on the Big Bend News section of our home page.

Park Service slammed for new bike trail at Big Bend NP
Posted on April 30, 2012 by Bob Berwyn

Watchdog groups raise conflict of interest issues and fault the park planning process

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT 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.

Here's what the park is saying:
Multi Use Trail Information Sheet

Date: May 9, 2012

Lone Mountain Trail in Big Bend National Park: Soon, a new way to experience the Chihuahuan Desert up close

Welcome 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)

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Offline Homer67

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Re: Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2012, 05:21:26 PM »
Shoot, I hope the trail is a better ride than the River Road East. 

After hiking up to the Mariscal Rim and out Cross Canyon to the Solis takeout on one day, we biked from Solis 2 to Talley to retrieve the truck on the next in Feb 2011.  Man! Not a cloud in the sky, 40 mph wind gusts and no shade.  The road is deceiving when one drives over it; it appears to be firm and solid and it is in most places.  But long stretches of loose pea gravel and loose, deep soil await. It was nice to see the desert close up, and there were spectacular views of the Quemada. We even met a nice ranger, Cookie out by the mine.
Ah Big Bend, we will soon return to reacquaint ourselves in our ritual of blood, exhaustion and dehydration. How can we resist the temptation to strip ourselves of the maladies of civilization?

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Offline Flash

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Re: Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #21 on: May 15, 2012, 06:40:35 PM »
It is curious to me how loosely words such as "pristine" and "wilderness" are used in reference to parts of Big Bend. I dig the Park for what it is, but wilderness is not how I would describe the area of the proposed trail.

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Offline ambersdad

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Re: Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2012, 06:46:00 PM »
There were actually volunteers out laying the groundwork for the trail when I was there in April.   Their vehicles were parked across the road from the store.
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Offline wclavey

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Re: Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2012, 07:28:54 PM »
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.

I'm inclined to agree with Hayduke's comment from last year... there is more to this than meets the eye... NASCAR drivers are taxpayers too, but we're not seeing a proposal for a NASCAR track out in the desert...  It's like closing the Cape Hatteras lighthouse because the historic building could not be made wheelchair accessible - - not everything is appropriate for every possible accommodation.  And for this reason, I think there is some other reason why this deal was important to make. 

I, too, mountain bike (although not as much as I did then I was in my 30s & 40s) and I ride in state parks, and for that exact reason I would not think this is necessary.  There are the unpaved roads in the NP and if you feel the need for something more rugged, there is the state park.  And I must say, the comment in the park's press release about "watching the birds and wildlife" has me completely baffled...  I guess they haven't spent too much time on a trail with bike riders.

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Offline Casa Grande

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Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2012, 08:58:27 PM »
Yeah, this seems so unnecessary.    Don't know.

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Offline Flash

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Re: Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #25 on: May 15, 2012, 09:20:04 PM »
And for this reason, I think there is some other reason why this deal was important to make. 
Starting to sound like a park within a park.  :eusa_think:
Maybe the resident personnel at nearby PJ (NPS, BP, DHS, etc.) and their families are demanding a jogging trail and a bike path for recreation...  :eusa_whistle:

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Offline Flash

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Re: Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #26 on: May 15, 2012, 09:50:37 PM »
Here is picture of the proposed trail:


This came from a document on the following NPS page:
Enviromental Assessment - Construct New Multi-Use Trail at Panther Junction, Big Bend National Park

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Offline Jimbow

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Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #27 on: May 16, 2012, 07:48:13 AM »
Walking that area during most of the year is a death defying act. How many cyclists will be using the trail? I have shared the trail with bikes and find them less onerous than horses, snowmobiles, and other contraptions.
Everything is in walking distance if you have enough time.

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Offline Hayduke

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Re: Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #28 on: May 16, 2012, 08:01:36 AM »
You have to ask - with all the current MTB opportunities available to MTBers at BBRSP and BBNP, why does IMBA think its important to focus its resources on building an MTB trail around Lone Mountain?

Is the MTB route around Lone Mountain really so desirable to MTBers that they have to expend this much effort, or is there something bigger afoot?

This is a toehold and sets a precedent for -

- building MTB trails in other areas the Park (maybe some areas that aren't being "used" for anything)
- expanding areas where MTBs may be used in the Park (existing trails?)
- building new MTB trails in other units of the Park system
- having outside groups representing xxx come into an NPS unit, do their own fonsi and build a facility for their xxxs.

Fill in xxx with the outdoor instrument of your choice (MTB, ATV, whatever).

Hayduke
 
 

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Offline Flash

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Re: Big Bend National Park Proposal To Develop Multi-Use Biking Trail
« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2012, 08:35:16 AM »
By looking at the map above, I see it would probably be very desirable to build a residents only connector trail from the PJ living areas to the proposed loop.  :eusa_think:

 


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