BLM looking for bike trail vandals

David Livingston, from left, representing a biking group, Chris Joyner with the Bureau of Land Management, and John Howe with the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association examine the section of the Gunny Trail that was damaged by vandals last month.



The Bureau of Land Management is aggressively looking for the person or persons who vandalized a portion of a popular mountain biking trail in early November, destroying maintenance work that had been in place for barely two hours.

On the morning of Nov. 2, a four-person crew from the Western Colorado Conservation Corps, directed by David Livingston, director of corporate coaching with Hilltop, began work at a portion of the Gunny Trail between Little Park Road and the Gunnector turn-off.

A rock wall at that location had eroded to the point that it was not rideable for all but mountain bikers able to hop their bikes 2 feet, Livingston said, so the crew placed large rocks and rock fill to make a ramp at the rock ledge.

Between leaving the trail at about 4 p.m. and returning two hours later on a night ride with the Leftovers mountain biking group, Livingston said, all of the rocks and fill at the ledge had been removed, including a rock that already was there when the crew started work that morning.

“We’re taking this very seriously, and we have federal law enforcement officers investigating it,” said Chris Joyner, BLM spokesman. “We’re treating this as vandalism.

“Individually, if I don’t like a stop sign in my neighborhood, for example, I don’t go out and remove it, and that’s essentially what this person did. The general public individually don’t go out and make decisions that are going to impact everybody without there being some — in this case, law enforcement — consequences.”

The decision to augment that portion of the Gunny Trail, which is part of the Lunch Loops trail system, was done through a process outlined by the National Environmental Policy Act, which includes a public comment period, Joyner said.

“We don’t just go out willy-nilly and do improvements to public lands,” he said. “The proper process went into play in this improvement.”

Livingston said he did hear complaints that adding the ramp at that rock ledge would “dumb down” the trail, and that trail alterations can be a very sensitive topic. However, he added, “in this example, (the trail) wasn’t really built to spec in the beginning. It wasn’t quite right, it wasn’t sustainable, so we came in with the idea that we would build something that was going to last.”

The Corps volunteered its crew to the BLM, Livingston said, and Hilltop volunteered his time. The crew placed four 200- to 300-pound rocks that had been trimmed to fit the location, as well as support rocks on the side and fill rocks, Livingston said. All of it was gone when he returned to the ledge at 6 p.m. Nov. 2, he said.

“I understand the other aspect of wanting that challenge,” Livingston said. “I’ve been riding mountain bikes for 40 years, since they came about, and my skills developed and got better as the trails degraded. I understand that it pushes your skills to deal with the erosion, but we’re going to lose our trails if we don’t do some maintenance.”

Joyner said the BLM is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to finding whoever destroyed the ramp. Anyone with information should call the BLM at 244-3000.


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