Email letters, April 10, 2014

BLM can boost bike tourism by keeping Lunch Loops clean

For the 30 years or so that I’ve lived in Colorado, Grand Junction has been largely off the map as a primary tourist destination. However, the growing wine industry, field-to-table movement, the internationally recognized quality of the mountain biking just west of Grand Junction and the greater exposure that the monument has gained are all working to bring more attention to the Grand Valley as a tourist destination.

Grand Junction now has its own set of excellent mountain bike trails, the Lunch Loops, just off the eastern approach to Colorado National Monument.  These trails have been featured in national cycling publications. and as a consequence,  people are driving into and through Grand Junction instead of driving past it on I-70 on their way to Fruita or Moab. Yesterday, a Monday and a relatively slow day at the “Loops, ” about 20 cars were at the Tabaguache Trailhead.  License plates were from Utah, Arizona, South Dakota, Washington, the Front Range and Quebec.  Later in the day, a demo van from a major U.S. mountain bike manufacturer showed up. This is a problem.

I was at the Lunch Loops on Monday to spend an hour or so picking up broken glass, rusted cans, metal scraps and other trash.  In that hour, never getting farther from the trailhead than a quarter-mile, and always within five feet of the “Kid’s Meal” and “Hop, Skip and Jump” trails, I filled a 3-gallon bucket with trash, mostly broken glass. 

If Grand Junction wants to shed its unfortunate nickname, “Grand Junkyard,” it would do well to make it less apparent that one of its newest attractions is, in fact, a junkyard.  The lower portion of the Lunch Loops that serve as entry points to the terrific trails on the mesa above, presents an opportunity for Grand Junction to make a positive statement to visitors from across the U.S. as well as international visitors, that we are not Grand Junkyard.

The riding at the Loops is wonderful. It is easy to forget, while riding on the upper mesa, the broken glass and rusted cans one rode past lower down. However, as one heads back to the trailhead, the trash comes back into view to remind the visitor that Grand Junction may have some issues with self-pride. The fact that some of the areas with the highest density of broken glass are areas designed to be family friendly makes the situation even worse.

Local bikers, runners and hikers have done a wonderful job of building a challenging, well designed trail system; however, this area is becoming one of the faces of the city and it is time for the BLM to become more actively involved than it already is in cleaning up the old trash and maintaining and repairing trails and damaged landscape after the inevitable summer rains and spring mud. It is a real chance to make a great impression on folks who have the disposable income for $5,000 bikes, cross-country cycling vacations and an interest in our area.
 
Seriously, if you have other choices, and there are many within an hour or so of Grand Junction, would you choose to go for a family riding vacation on trails littered with broken glass, nails, cartridge casings and rusted cans? The volunteers who have spent so many hours putting the Loops together deserve to be rewarded by more active agency involvement in the area.

GARY STETLER
Grand Junction


Those supporting ACA do not have to use it

Have you noticed that the vast majority of those making loud speeches in support of the Affordable Care Act are those who do not have to sign up for it? By the same token, the majority of the complaints we are hearing are coming from those who are required to have and pay for it. Think about it!

L.W. HUNLEY
Grand Junction


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