Printed letters, Nov. 29, 2011
I read Gary Harmon’s article on the Bear Ranch land exchange with interest. I am the director of Gunnison Trails, a non-profit trail advocacy organization based in Gunnison. We are focused on self-powered singletrack trail use on public lands near our town.
Self-powered trail users are walkers, runners and mountain bikers. We do not represent equestrians or motorized users, but we are not anti-horse nor anti-motorized. The vast majority of singletrack trails around Gunnison are motorized, multiple-use trails and we have very few conflicts among the various user groups.
I have been following this evolving and polarizing land-exchange story and, while I’m not in the trenches, I’ve been closer to it than most. As an ex officio and non-voting member of the Gunnison County Trails Commission, I have been present for meetings where Tom Glass, Ed Marston and others were in attendance. I would like to offer a couple of points that are not mentioned in Mr. Harmon’s story.
First, I am told that Jumbo Mountain is popular with hikers, runners, mountain bikers, equestrians and motorized users. Certainly, mountain bikers would not be the only public-lands users to benefit from having legal, high-quality access to these public lands.
If Jumbo becomes an asset to Paonia as similar public lands adjacent to Gunnison are, Paonia will benefit from having an additional economic driver (much smaller in scale but similar to what trail use has done for the Grand Junction economy) and the health benefits that come from citizens having convenient access to public lands.
Second, any non-motorized trail on U.S. Forest Service or BLM lands, new or otherwise, that is open to mountain bikes is also open to hikers and equestrians. It isn’t solely mountain bikers who would benefit from a new trail in the Raggeds area. Additionally, hikers and equestrians are more vocal about their preference for non-motorized trails. Perhaps mountain bikers get additional scrutiny since they are usually politically active and seated at the table.
No need to send people on Martian expedition
The project of sending that fascinating little space truck, Curiosity, to Mars is truly interesting and worth every dime of the investment. Our need to explore and learn about new frontiers is one of those wonderfully inexplicable facets of human nature.
There are two things of note:
If we can send vehicles to Mars that are increasingly sophisticated in their ability to gather and send information, why consider sending the most fragile cargo, humans, which would increase the cost by many factors? What more could a person accomplish — wandering around in an impossible suit — than Curiosity or its descendants?
Has anyone ever seen a published article about Mars that doesn’t have the word “life” in it?
BLM needs feedback from off-road vehicle users
The Colorado River Valley and Kremmling field offices of the Bureau of Land Management have proposed resource management plan revisions and are seeking feedback from user groups.
Among the user groups they want to hear from are users of all-terrain and off-highway vehicles. All of the proposed options will shut down OHV riding trails.
OHVs contributed at least $1 billion to Colorado in 2007 and 2008, according to the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition. Compare this to the $1.7 billion spent in 2008 by overnight visitors to Colorado related to the skiing industry. We are gaining respectful ground in helping our state’s economic stand, including local businesses.
These closures will penalize elderly folks and those with disabilities who are unable to hike at high altitudes. Further, local and out-of-state hunters who utilize OHVs will be forced to go elsewhere, taking revenue with them. The White River Trail Runners alone spent more than 250 volunteer hours in 2010 cleaning up area trails.
We encourage OHV enthusiasts to go to the BLM website, check out its proposal, then send detailed feedback to the BLM for each specific proposed trail closure. Include your name, address and phone number. Tell them how, when and why you use these specific areas. Printing out a copy of the website maps and sending it along with your personal photos are also helpful.
The comment deadline is Dec. 15, so we must act quickly.
SUSAN NICHOLS-ALVIS, President
White River Trail Runners ATV Club