January 23, 2013
Greetings fellow trail enthusiasts.  Ridgway Area Trails (RAT), the local action arm in Ridgway for Colorado Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA) asks for your support concerning the BLM's pending plan to create a comprehensive recreational trail system near Ridgway. BLM has drafted an Environmental Assessment (EA) and a Travel Management Plan (TMP) for that trail system.   BLM has invited public comment on its EA and TMP.  RAT/COPMOBA urges anyone interested in outdoor recreation to consider commenting.  Interested parties can take a look at the draft EA/TMP and the related maps by pasting the following  link into your web browser:

There you will find links to the EA/TMP and relate maps. 
Whether you review that information or not, COPMOBA/RAT urges everyone interested in sensible, sustainable recreational development in Ouray County to make their opinions known to BLM.  In doing so, COPMOBA/RAT asks that you consider Quick read more or view full article the following important points:
A.         BLM has created a Proposed Action option and 3 Alternative Action options.  COPMOBA/RAT supports implementation of BLM's Alternative 1 plan.  Alternative 1 was fully developed by and submitted to BLM by COPMOBA/RAT last spring as a very concise proposal for responsible Resource and Travel Management of the subject property.  COPMOBA/RAT spent 7 years consulting with users, BLM and technical specialists to develop this very comprehensive and responsible user plan.
            1.          According to BLM's own criteria, Alternative 1 appears overall superior to the BLM Proposed Action and to the other action options considered because the beneficial  impacts, on balance, outweigh the detrimental impacts of this option as compared to the other options. 
            2.         On most of BLM's own impact criteria, the impacts caused by Alternative 1 are virtually identical to those caused by the BLM Proposed Action.  
            3.         Alternative 1 produces several impacts more beneficial to the environment and the community that BLM's Proposed Action, including:
            a.         According to BLM, Alternative 1 results in more economic benefit to the community. This is probably the most critical issue for our Town, our County and the entire area.
            b.         According to BLM, Alternative 1 includes somewhat more trails.  This creates more recreational opportunity and reduces conflict among users.  
            c.         According to BLM, Alternative 1 causes less detrimental impact to law enforcement resources by reducing potential user conflict.
            d.         According to BLM, Alternative 1 causes less detrimental impact to traffic/access infrastructure.
            e.         According to BLM, Alternative 1 minimizes motorized traffic on terrain that is not suitable for motorized use
            4.         BLM's chief concern about Alternative 1 seems to be that it will result in more trail construction and therefore more potential for erosion.  However, BLM asserts that most erosion will result from equestrian use in wet conditions.  Accordingly, BLM can easily mitigate the potential for more erosion caused by additional trails under Alternative 1 with some sensible limitations on equestrian use and seasonal closure. 
            5.         Alternative 1 includes a beginner loop near County Rd. 10, which makes it very accessible for less skilled trail users.  This is the best place for a beginner loop because the terrain is very forgiving and easily accessible from Ridgway.
            6.         Alternative 1 creates two separate, north/south, single-track routes by which users can traverse the entire parcel.  One route lies on the west half of the parcel, the other on the east.  The BLM Proposed Action option eliminates the east-side through route.  This will diminish the overall quality of user experience and will create more potential for user conflict by forcing more two-way traffic on single track trails.
B.           Even  If BLM won't implement Alternative 1, they should at least consider mitigating the most  serious defects of their Proposed Action, as follows:
            1.         Make sure the final plan includes at least 2 single track through routes from north to south.  They could do this by adding back in trail 2205 from the Alternative 1 action option. This reduces user conflict and maximizes user experience. 
            2.         Reroute several trails west of the gravel pit road, all of which traverse loose, rocky, dry, sometimes steep terrain.  Those trails do not look sustainable.  One option would be to build several trails depicted on BLM's Alternative 1 map, instead of the more problematic trails depicted on the Proposed Action Map.
            3.         BLM wants to spend 5 years building the project.  This will result in increased user conflict and more user pressure to create unsanctioned trails.  Those are two of the most serious problems BLM claims to want to avoid.  With local volunteer manpower, the project is easily buildable in 3 years or less.  This will accelerate the beneficial impact of the project to the local community and economy.
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