Dec. 17 deadline to file comments about a proposed new segment of the
Continental Divide Trail (CDT) in southern Colorado is less than a week
away. IMBA’s official comments submitted to the USDA Forest Service
state that the proposed 32-mile reroute should be accessible to mountain
bikers, despite the Forest Service’s suggestion that bikes should be
directed onto existing roads without access to new singletrack.
Take Action! Use IMBA’s simple webform to file your individual comments with the Forest Service.
“Whether you live in Colorado or any part of the United States, I
urge anyone who relishes the idea of riding a mountain bike in a remote,
beautiful setting to let the Forest Service know that bikes belong on
singletrack, including this proposed new CDT segment,” said Mike Van
Abel, IMBA’s executive director. “Frankly, the justifications that are
being used to route us onto dirt roads are based on outdated ideas.”
The Forest Service’s environmental assessment of the proposed trail
speculates that bike travel would negatively effect the trail tread and
degrade the social experience for other trail users. “Those arguments
fail to make the case for restricting bikes to roads,” said Van Abel.
“The best available research makes it clear that bikes have similar
impacts as hikers, and often less than equestrians. As for social
impacts, where’s the evidence that bicyclists, hikers and equestrians
can’t share? The CDT already boasts many success stories where bicycling
is an accepted use on segments of the trail."
Read more about the environmental and social impacts related to shared-use trails.
According to Dave Wiens, a bike advocate and member of the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association and Gunnison Trails,
there’s a lot at stake, despite the remoteness of the Cochetopa Hills
area of the Rio Grande National Forest. “I’ve been lucky enough to ride
this part of the CDT and I can tell you that the prospect of bike access
to more than 30 miles of newly built singletrack would be attractive to
riders across the region. It would be a boon for local businesses and a
tremendous recreational asset.”
“Moreover,” adds Wiens, “the Forest Service should recognize that
including mountain biking in their planning adds tremendous value.
Groups like CBMBA and Gunnison Trails volunteer hundreds of service
hours annually on public lands. Mountain bikers represent a thriving
demographic with the potential for strong partnerships. I believe
excluding us from new singletrack would be a mistake.”