Friday, May 23, 2003
There has been a lot of publicity recently about the potential closing of the south end of Otero Canyon Trail and related trails in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area. This issue has been present since the mid 1990's when Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) formed a board to determine what to do with this land. The land is on loan to the DOE from the USFS and has been for many, many years. The events of September 11, 2001, and the base security issues associated with today's security environment; along with trespassing incidents last season have brought the situation to the forefront.
Every time we ride or hike up Otero Canyon or to the Lookout Tower we have been encroaching on restricted government land. Until recently the Air Force base has chosen to look the other way. Last season, on at least one occasion, trail users decided to go exploring and ended up at the DOE shooting range. As a result of that incident KAFB could no longer ignore the volume of recreational traffic that was encroaching on restricted land.
The USFS, like us, does not want to see the trails closed. They are trying to negotiate a compromise that will keep the Otero Canyon trails open at least to the head of Otero Canyon. If the USFS is unsuccessful in negotiating a compromise, Trail Partners and the USFS already have plans for construction of connector trails and new trails in the Tunnel, Otero and David Canyon riding area.
Trail Partners has offered our assistance to the USFS and KAFB in resolution of this issue. We have a good relationship with the USFS that allows us to have a voice in resolving land access issues. We do not wish to alienate ourselves from KAFB as this could result in the most severe access restrictions.
What Can You Do?
When riding, stay on existing trails, don't go exploring on KAFB Property, and don't build or initiate unauthorized trails!
As a member of Trail Partners your voice is being heard. Encourage your friends and biking buddies to join Trail Partners.
If the closure occurs we will have a lot of new trails to build. Get out and help. Get your friends to help.
To join the IMBA affiliate Trail Partners contact:
75 Canyon Rd.
Sandia Park, NM 87047