Help Save Mountain Biking in Fruita, Colorado|
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released a draft plan that will govern recreational trail use in the north Fruita desert. The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) is asking mountain bikers to comment on the plan by November 7, 2003. Because Fruita is such a popular destination for mountain bikers throughout the United States and around the world, we encourage cyclists everywhere to comment.
The BLM proposes to create an area of approximately 4,000 acres as a protected non-motorized zone. Within this zone lies the popular 18 Road trail system. Mountain bicycling would be encouraged in this area. The BLM proposes to improve camping, maps, signage, sanitation and staff monitoring of the area. The BLM also proposes re-routing and improving trails that are not sustainable. IMBA commends the BLM for these important management action steps.
IMBA has a number of concerns with the plan, specifically its support for expanded motorized use in the north Fruita desert. IMBA is very concerned about the impacts motorized use will have on other visitors and the local ecosystem.
"Fruita, Colorado, is one of the top destination mountain bicycling areas in the world," said IMBA executive director Tim Blumenthal. "While IMBA supports motorized use in appropriate areas, the current draft plan fails to provide a balance among recreational needs. Without modification, this plan could make Fruita a less appealing place for mountain bikers and other non-motorized trail visitors."
What You Can Do
IMBA is encouraging all mountain bikers to write letters or email the BLM before the Nov. 7 deadline. You can also attend a BLM public meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado, on Oct. 23 to voice your concerns. Because this management plan deals with federal land, everyone can submit comments, NOT just Colorado residents.
Please include the following points in your comments to the BLM:
- Tell the BLM, in your own words, how increased motorized vehicle use would affect the north Fruita desert visitor experience.
- Of the 76,000 total acres under consideration, the North Fruita Desert Plan opens more than 90 percent to motorized use, leaving only 10 percent as a designated non-motorized zone.
- The BLM estimates approximately 36,000 people recreate in the area per year. Of these visitors, 25,000 are mountain bikers. The number of motorized users is negligible. IMBA believes a new management plan should reflect current and future desired use patterns, and designate more of the total area as a non-motorized zone.
- The North Fruita Desert is a sensitive ecosystem with a variety of flora and fauna, and is home to threatened species. It's also an area with a dense network of trails. IMBA believes the environmental impacts of motorized vehicles on this ecosystem will be significant. To limit this impact, more of the total area should be designated as a non-motorized zone.
- Fruita, Colorado, is one of the most popular mountain bicycling destination areas in the world. Mountain bike tourism has given a significant boost to the economy of Fruita in the past decade. According to the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau, the Fruita Fat Tire Festival alone pumps $1.5 million into the local economy annually. The continuing availability of high-quality mountain biking will assure that those economic benefits continue.
- The plan contains inconsistent language. Specifically, the plan contradicts itself in regards to access to washes and drainages within the non-motorized zone. IMBA believes all washes and drainages in the non-motorized zone should be closed to motorized vehicles. Furthermore, the environmental impact of motorized vehicles in washes and drainages, even in designated motorized areas, needs further examination.
- The plan proposes construction of a designated motorized "sacrifice zone" that allows cross-country travel. The Grand Junction area already has motorized "sacrifice zones" and these have proven difficult to manage. IMBA is concerned a new motorized "sacrifice zone" would prove detrimental to the area's ecosystem and other recreational visitors. IMBA questions the need for a new motorized "sacrifice zone," considering this resource already exists in the Grand Valley.
- IMBA designated the Edge Loop an Epic Ride in 1999, a designation given to select trails that offer a world class mountain biking experience. The North Fruita Plan threatens the integrity of a section of this trail, known as Lippan Wash. IMBA recommends that the non-motorized zone be expanded to include all of Lippan Wash and the singletrack extending to Coal Gulch Road. Of the three alternatives presented, IMBA recommends option one, which separates motorized and non-motorized use to the greatest extent possible.
Letters: Letters must be submitted by November 7. Letters are the preferred method of commenting as agencies often give more weight to letters than emails. Send letters to:
Bureau of Land Management
Attn: James Cooper
Grand Junction Field Office
2815 H Rd
Grand Junction, CO 81506
Emails: Emails must be submitted by November 7. While not as effective as letters, emails can also help make a difference. Send emails to: email@example.com
Thursday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m.
Grand Junction BLM office
2815 H Road
Grand Junction, Colorado
To read the North Fruita Desert Management Plan visit http://www.co.blm.gov/gjra/NFD-PDFlinks.htm. For more information, email IMBA's advocacy coordinator Dan Vardamis at firstname.lastname@example.org or IMBA's western Colorado Rep Bill Harris at email@example.com.