Thursday, October 23, 2008

Something I can agree on

Wow, you couldnt make this stuff up. So after 8 years of living with the failed policies of the Bush era I am finally able to agree with him on something. This week the Star and Tribune had an article on the fact that Bush is trying to make it easier for Mountain Bike Trails to be built in our National Parks. This is huge and is also a long time in coming. Unfortunately if you read the article to you find out that the "Environmentalists" are against it due to destructiveness and erosion. That in my mind is old school thinking. Mountain Biking has always had an image problem but it needs to be said that Mountain Biking has come a long way in the past 15 years. There are overwhelming examples of succesful, environmentally sound Mountain Bike trails, take for instance The Kingdom Trails or the Maah Daah Hey Trails for example. For once Bush got it right. Now how do we pass on the idea of sustainable, environmentally friendly trails to our state government? How can we get more trails into our state parks and state forests? This may be one piece of the puzzle and amazingly it came from the worst enviro president in years.


Anonymous said...

old school thinking? are you nuts? there is hardly any dollars out there in this strong economy to maintain the existing trails in national parks and what with the increased damage they do in comparison to hikers (although horses are horrible) how are we going to maintain them?

i can see that you haven't really any experience managing or maintaining trails other than some fluff volunteer work days.

bush ought to spend his time using those golden parachute payments that AIG and the rest of the folks were denied to fix the parks before he increases use.

Loki said...

Nice, nothing like getting slammed on my own blog, but I guess that is a healthy thing. First, off I feel like my entry is a bit harsh on Enviros, but keep in mind I am also one of those enviros, however at some point we need to look at ourselves and take a shot. As to "Fluff Volunteer Days" I have to take offense as I have worked for years running or maintaing trails at Nordic centers, plus have been riding and giving "Fluff" days" to trails for most of my life. As to my old school comment, I am tired of hearing that MTB riding is so destructive. Certainly on pirate and unmananged trails it can be harmful, but groups like IMBA have brought sustainable trail building a long way. Go to an IMBA trail system and tell me what you see, show me erosion and increased damage. In fact I will go as far to say that IMBA build trails are even better than most hiking trails as to water drainage and soil impact. Case in point, the Superior Hiking Trail section between Midway Road and Jay Cooke state park. They built that trail up every clay steep embankment, have used a forest full of wooden steps to try and stave off erosion and have basically turned the trail into very intrusive and hard to maintain entity.
As to dollars and parks, I am not up on how the federal funding goes, but I do know that in general we are losing the outdoor enthusiast in droves, to video games, to motorized recreation and to ignorace of nature in general. MTB riding is a legitimate and practiced form of backcountry travel and we should embrace it as way to introduce people to being outside. You cant protect something unless you value it. I would hope that those increased visits and dollars would go back to trail maintance and to Parks in general. In anycase, "Anonymous" I would hope you would use your name and tell me YOUR experience before you attack me. What are your "Fluff" days based on? For all I know you dont even walk out your door......PS good call on AIG, but I will be even more pumped when he is just gone.

Anonymous said...

one mans mtn bike is another mans ATV.........

pmac said...

I'll shoot my two cents in here...
As a multi-use or hiking-only trail user all over North America for 2+ decades I've seen incredibly productive changes in how trails are designed and managed. During the past 2 years since I've been able to actively participate in mountain bike-accessible trail construction and maintenance, no other group that I have worked on trails with has come close to the productivity level and passion of mountain bike rider/users in trail management. "Old school thinking" is exactly the appropriate terminology. As a hiker, I've laid soles down on Superior Hiking Trail, North Country Pathway, Pacific Rim Trail, Skyline to the Sea in the Henry Cowell Redwood State Park, CA (better known to Star Wars geeks as Forest Planet Endor), John Muir Woods and countles others I can't possibly remember. Trails that are hiking-only rarely seem maintained, maybe this is part of the concept of hiking-only, until you try taking your 70+ year old parents hiking through an area with trees that have obviously been down across a trail for awhile and are a major hindrance to "mature" users.

The current state of responsible mountain biking trail users is one of an engaged, respectful, mindful steward of the lands that they have the grace and privilege of accessing.

If the NPS allows mountain biking access of the National Park system trails, they guarantee a massive volunteer workforce to show up on trail maintenance days with the desire to work hard in the creation of sustainable multi-use trails. As the old saying from Field of Dreams goes, "Build it, and they will come." Otherwise, offroad biking users will maintain their focus on trails that allow biking, a system that is constantly threatened by development, and in no small part, individuals who ignorantly continue to view mountain biking has a destructive use of trails.

As for funding, the NPS will only benefit from increased funding when there is a transition in mindset of budget appropriations at the top. As long as there is a war that siphons billions of tax dollars from the budget, or a system of corporate subsidies that effectively burns money on poorly managed industries. Influential as they have become, even IMBA is powerless against the military-industrial, and oil, airline, and agri-business lobbies. For now mountain biking users can only demonstrate at the grassroots level that we are responsible managers of the land and positively willing to support sustainable trails in the National Parks.

Anonymous said...


A post bound to hit a nerve. Hansi, I'll jump in here and add my two cents.

Here in SLC where we have tons of mountain bikers and tons of trail needing help, on the volunteer days hardly any mountain bikers ever show up, and Yellowstone and Yosemite (separately) get LESS usage than these areas. I can say this as I've setup, promoted and led volunteer days that recruit in excess of 100 folks.

Additionally, having run nonprofit trail rehab programs and written massive grants to fund such projects getting trails to where they need to be, the volunteer model doesn't work as effectively because solid trail building is very skill based and while people can show up and provide the grunt labor, they just don't have the skillZ to really do good trail work. In fact, organizations like the Mountain Trails Foundation who lay tons of IMBA standard tracks contract out around here to private businesses... heaviy funded by weird developer fees that are imposed by government (at least, I think.) SO, the trails are funded by development and worked on by private crews.

Also, having seen trails built by both IMBA and the USFS, I'm partial to the USFS standards as they seem to need less maintenance, even if they aren't as fun to ride (and they aren't!)

So, while I'm not too excited to hear more users in the parks, I'm up in the air, but I think it's a little silly to say the volunteers are going to step in. It's hard enough close to cities, let alone in the remote locations like the NP's.

Additionally, trail work is HARD HARD HARD and it's not like people are going to take a week off to bang dirt with a Maddox (did I spell that right?) or a Pulaski and/or a rock bar.

Anyway, just my 2 cents.

-P in SLC