The Sulphur Ranger District Trails Smart Sizing
The Sulphur Ranger District Trails Smart Sizing Project is taking a big step in limiting mountain bikes to designated trails:
“The proposal would limit bicycle use to designated system roads and trails as depicted on the map in Appendix A of this document.
A Forest Order prohibiting the possession or use of a bicycle off of National Forest System roads and trails depicted on the map would be produced. The prohibition restricting bicycle use to designated system roads and trails would include the entire Sulphur Ranger District. The primary project area encompasses approximately 435,000 acres, the entire Sulphur Ranger District. All non-system (social or user created) trail, both currently present and that which is built in the future, could be obliterated. “
It is important that we who are interested in retaining the Wilderness and wilderness characteristics in our area provide comments to support the proposal to limit biking to designated trails. Along with any comments you may have on specific trails or areas, remember to mention support of this decision.
The best place to submit your comments is on the web page: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=48390 These are due by Friday, March 18th, so you will need to act quickly.
I have provided some comments you can use as guidelines for formulating your own. Please do not just copy these, but use them to spark your own thoughts to express in your comments. I have separated them into 6 topics to help you locate your area of interest:
Many of these comments are from projects around the state. They are not arranged with any significance inside the topic area.
WILDERNESS CHARACTERISTICS: It is important to me that this area remain available for wildlife to thrive. I want to commend the Forest Service for recognizing that the non-system trails are having negative impacts on wildlife, watersheds, and other Forest values and is now limiting bicycle use to a designated system of routes.
I enjoy the wilderness. The quiet solitude of this area is an important place where I hike and take time out of my busy life to reflect.
Excessive use of the loop on Roger's Pass could impact this Wilderness Protection area greatly. If you must build a trail in this area, please make sure it is a low use trail.
The amount of use on the Roger's Pass loop needs to be monitored to keep it from becoming overused.
The Roger's Loop trail is located in the James Peak Wilderness Protection area. Because of its location, it is important to retain the wilderness aspects of silence and solitude. Please keeping this area's “undisturbed natural landscapes.” by not creating this trail.
This section of the James Peak Wilderness Protection Area has the potential to lose its current remote, solitary social setting if unmanaged mountain bike use is allowed. Per the information on this website, the Forest Service should monitor and ticket individuals found in possession or use of a bicycle off of the designated trails.
To protect this area for future generations, the Forest Service should maintain the remote, uncrowded feeling on the Roger's Loop trail.
We encourage the Forest to set aside primitive, nonmechanized zones certain trails to be horse/hiking only.
WILDLIFE and ENVIRONMENT:
The Forest Service should manage recreation in this area to limit disturbance in wildlife habitat identified in the CPW website
Like OHVs, mountain bikes have the ability to spread resource impacts quickly over large tracts of land. Because they cover greater distances than hiking and horseback trail uses, they have the potential to cause habitat fragmentation in the core habitat areas. Limiting mountain bikes to designated trails is a great step in limiting this fragmentation. We commend the Forest Service in taking this step.
The mission of the Forest Service is "To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations." Its motto is "Caring for the land and serving people. This mission should outweigh developing and maintaining a playground for mountain bikes and other recreational activities. Maintenance and changes in the Project should first consider this health, diversity and productivity of the area.
Per the plan, Trail bridges or other appropriate crossing structures would be built across all streams as shown on the proposed action map (Appendix B). The purpose of these structures is to minimize impacts to streams from trails and trail use. I approve of the efforts to minimize the impact on streams.
The Right Sizing Project needs to address the potential of possibly high traffic mountain bike trails interfering with wildlife identified on the CPW web page: http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/Maps.aspx#HuntingAtlas (Pick your animal) (There is some lynx information at http://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/Research/Mammals/Publications/LynxMovementsnearBerthoudPassColorado.pdf if you are interested in that project.
While not as noisy and physically impacting as motorized trails, mountain bike trails contribute to wildlife disturbance. The amount of use, large groups sizes, and timing of use, spreading human disturbance on trails throughout the year, shoulder seasons, and morning and evening times, leaving less undisturbed time for wildlife. Planning for trail use in this area should consider these factors.
Many wildlife species, like humans, cannot maintain certain life cycle functions on slopes of more than a certain grade. We suggest that the Forest Service consider the wildlife in this area. More gentle slopes need to be protected. Especially since these areas are the last refuge for wildlife displaced from surrounding human development. sedimentation. The Forest Service needs to analyze these potential impacts of trail development.
Wildlife are disturbed not just by how many trails are in the area, but also by the amount of trail use. This contributes to fragmentation of areas where wildlife can comfortably exist. Intensities of use are measured by traffic levels, volumes, frequency, and times of use, etc., These need to be assessed in advance of project approval, and resources secured that will be needed to effectively manage these disturbances
As user created trails are decommissioned, it is important that these be deleted from maps and physically closed.
Manage trail use by limiting number of users and group sizes
The value of this area needs to be protected by
We commend the Forest Service in their decision to use the
The Forest Service needs to work with local chambers of commerce, business, tourism and trails groups to establish clear user expectations and educate the users about how to interact in this beautiful, wildlife rich area.
Many techniques have been used to keep growth in trail use at manageable levels, including restrictions on advertising, group and competitive events, reducing size of parking lots, rotating types and times of use, and establishing capacities that set a cap on daily numbers of visitors. The Proposed Action should include these measures as contingencies.
Significant existing and potential conflicts exist between snowbikes and traditional winter non-motorized trail uses, and need to be analyzed.
Enforcement of designated trails is of concern. Law enforcement problems already exist in the area including illegal camping, camp fires, shooting, etc. due the District's inadequate resources for user education and law enforcement. The Proposed Action needs to demonstrate how the situation can be changed, and document the future availability of funding and resources for all aspects of management, not just maintenance, for example establishing a “culture of compliance”, user education, prevention of user-created trails, and an ethic of staying on trails and maintaining compatible speed levels and protocols---in both the near and far term.
In order to emphasize the commitment of the Forest Service to require that mountain bikers must use designated trails. The Forest Service should consistently issue tickets to individuals found in possession or using a bicycle off of a designated trail. These tickets should be of a consequential amount.
As this plan is put into place, it may get user's attention by issuing tickets quickly and strictly at the beginning. Perhaps something similar to drunk driving sweeps on St Patrick's weekends. Knowing the Forest Service is serious may make it easier to enforce later.
Forest Service recreation crews should inspect the condition of the trail system for safety and resource concerns. Inspections would be recorded on Forest Service provided inspection sheets. The triggers for not passing inspection would be: 1) not meeting Forest Service trail standards and trail management objectives; 2) changes in the environmental landscape or 3) social use and user interaction on trails. If one or more of these triggers are identified the trail may be temporarily closed until repaired, realigned or permanently removed from the trail system through obliteration and revegetation
We recognize the difficulty federal land managers have in obtaining the resources and funding necessary-----not just for construction and maintainance large trail systems but more important----the ongoing management of trail use on the systems. Funding is available from the state and other sources for physical trail construction and improvements, but little funding is available anywhere, including Forest Service budgets, for creating a user ethic of responsibility, enforcement, and ensuring the discontinuation of social trails.
Funding should be sought proportionately for all portions of this trail system including: construction, restoration, maintenance, and compliance. Because outside grants may be more likely to fund trail construction than other portions of the project the F.S. will make all reasonable efforts to provide funding and resources for portions of the project that are not funded from grants. Funding for trail construction should not increase the challenges of trail restoration, maintenance, enforcement and monitoring
Create a yearly timetable that specifies the mix of activities to take place each year, such that resources for decommissioning and enforcement stay in sync with resources for trail construction. Estimate costs associated with each of the three activities, and attempt to obtain funding commitments for all three before proceeding with any one of them. Monitor to be sure funding is balanced between the construction, maintenance and education/enforcement.
Thresholds triggering management action are designed similar to those for the East Shore Trail to assure compliance before new construction.
Funding for more trail construction should not be sought until funding for decommissioning, closures, restoration, enforcement, monitoring, and maintenance is obtained
TRAILS OUTSIDE THE “PROJECT” AREA:
Please Review Appendix A on the website:
Be aware that you can zoom in on the map by pressing the + button.
This includes ALL of the trails that will be designated for mountain bike use in the Sulphur Ranger District.
Many of you hike these trails and know the area intimately. Be sure to make comments regarding which trails may or may not be suitable for mountain biking.
Areas I had questioned are those in the Bowen Gulch Protection Area - These may have been there as mountain bike trails for some time, I am just not familiar with that area.
I also wonder about spurs that lead only to the Wilderness Area – like the one near Meadow Creek Res the one in the northern corner of the James Peak Protection Area, and the small trail at the south end of Shadow mountain Lake(this may be a road).
This is the time to make comments on these trails also.