at the risk of stirring up a huge can o' worms - WEST MAG PUBLIC PROCESS
I've been riding and enjoying West Mag since quite a ways before it was ever signed or "official". I remember riding all day with a hand drawn map from the trolley at Ned, up the Dots and all the way out to Rollinsville without seeing a single other trail user. I remember the jankety handmade trestles and faint primitive pine needle singletrack, and getting way, way lost up there.
The Forest Service is now soliciting public commentary on their upcoming proposed use plan. This is important because if you want input on what the trails look like, you need to tell them now, not 2 or 3 years from now after the work is complete.
Link to BMA site news piece and FS project email.
Link to Forest Service proposed project map.
Link to Forest Service announcement letter with their philosophy and reasoning.
The project map includes many nice proposals, including a rather extensive expansion of singletrack.
as a XC (skate) skier I am also stoked to see the Boulder Nordic Club getting involved in the review process, as they're working on the potential for groomed XC ski access on fire roads up there as well (since the Eldora XC trails kinda, well, suck actually, and they're expensive for what they are). And they've got a good base of volunteers to add to the resource pool, not to mention groomed XC can make great fatbiking.
The 2 biggest positives I see here: BMA is advocating for both a singletrack connector to Winter Park, and for bigger / more uphill/downhill trails in the southwest end of things (near School Bus).
I understand that this involves change, which people hate, and I anticipate a lot of complaining on this thread, since every single West Mag thread on this board has been a train wreck. But since I'm posting links on information on how to publicly comment, I would HOPE people will go in there and give their feedback and advocate for making this public use facility what we all want to see (more trails, more technical trails at advanced / expert skill levels, etc...). The biggest theme I've seen on these contentious West Mag threads has always been reactionary rants about changes being made to trails with no notification and transparency; lots of theories about hidden agendas and soforth. So now you know in time to make your opinion heard.
For myself, I would advocate for expansion of the current singletrack, with an eye to maintaining the natural, primitive feel of the trails. I'm a fan of sustainability, but not at the expense of what I term "Valmont-Park-in-the-woods"; i.e. big manufactured berms, engineered treads and huge amounts of rock work, etc... I'd also love to see more focus on designated use trails (bike only, horse only, hike only, etc...) to help minimize user conflicts and help make trails safer for everyone, but I get the feeling that's a culturally untouchable subject in this region.
This past weekend I rode Re-root in the new clearcut area up there. The trail rebuild was nicely done. While I don't much care for clearcut or slash piles, I do like the big open Divide views, and dead trees are dead trees - they're gonna go some way or another, be it blowdown, fire, or logging, and I'd say based on what I've seen already growing back, the wildflowers are going to be epic in those new open meadows.
Last edited by lonefrontranger; 09-04-2013 at 11:33 AM.
Reason: clarification & added link
Thanks for the info, well written.
Just realized after re-reading the FS link - deadline to submit comments on the proposed plan is THIS FRIDAY, September 6th. For some reason that date didn't click with me as imminent.
...crikey where has this summer gone?
Last edited by lonefrontranger; 09-04-2013 at 07:34 PM.
Great post lonefrontranger.
If you're in favor of keeping the current character of West Mag trails intact, the Nederland Area Trail Organization (NATO) has prepared suggested talking points you can incorporate into your comments. Very important to note that under the process the USFS is using for this proposal, if you don't submit a written comment by the end of the comment period (today) then you will not have any standing for future comment or objection as the design is finalized. Your ability to object will also be limited to the scope of items covered within your comments.
NATO-recommended Comments ? Magnolia Trails Project Proposal | NATO
NATO FB page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nederl...01926336519637
Below are the comments on the Magnolia Trails Project Proposal that NATO is recommending.
Feel free to personalize as you see fit.
Comments must be submitted by, Friday, September 6, 2013. If you do not comment prior to the deadline, you will be unable to file an objection once the proposal is finalized. Also, be aware that during the objection period, you will only be able to object on items on which you commented.
Comments may be mailed to:
Boulder Ranger District
2140 Yarmouth Ave
Boulder, CO 80301
or emailed to:
To be safe, I would also suggest cc-ing:
Put “Magnolia Trails Project Proposal” in the subject line.
Magnolia Trails Project Proposal
1. I would like the final plan to explicitly state the trails need to match the character of the Nederland community and the character of the trails that exist now. Specifically, they need to be singletrack. They should be hand-built, not constructed with machinery, using materials found on-site – not trucked in from elsewhere. They should be rustic and provide a feeling of being discovered. They should not be signed with gaudy or excessive signage. Trails should continue to provide opportunities for discovery and exploration. Signage should be minimal allowing for more of a “backcountry” experience, even times when one is not sure where they are exactly.
2. I have serious concerns about the recent trail work completed in the West Magnolia Area (Sugar Magnolia and ReRoot trails). The trails do not match the character of our community, have been constructed without input of locals, and are not the types of trails we want in our community (see #1). They feel homogenized and undermine what makes Nederland and Nederland trails unique. The final plan should include a specific process for choosing a trail design and construction company and should explicitly state the Nederland Area Trails Organization and Nederland town government will be consulted during the choosing of trail design and construction company.
3. I am concerned that so many trails are designated for realignment – many of these trails have existed for decades and do not need to be realigned. The final plan should state specifically why any trail designated for realignment needs to be realigned. Making the trails “sustainable” is not specific enough. This word should be specifically defined. Trails scheduled for realignment that cause the most concern include but are not limited to: 342.1, 342.1A, 342.1B, 357.2C, 606.1, 925.1, 925.1A, 925.1B, 925.1E, 926.1A, 926.1E.
4. I am most concerned about the actual trail building – where the shovel meets the dirt. Nederland citizens and the Nederland Area Trails Organization should play an integral part in designing the specific trails that will exist, including the specific flag placing and the specific characteristics of corners, etc. The final plan should explicitly state the Nederland Area Trails Organization and representatives of Nederland government will be consulted at each decision point in the process.
5. I am concerned the proposal does not include specifics about funding, partnerships with locals, time tables, specific trail characteristics, specific details about who will design the trails, specifics concerning who will place flags, specifics about who will actually build the trails, specifics about the process for choosing a contractor. The final plan should address each of these points. If a decision has not been made about any of these points, then the final plan should state the specific process for reaching those decisions.
6. I am concerned that the plan as proposed makes no mention of potential facilities in the area. Creating connections from the Town of Nederland should encourage users to begin their adventures in Town, eliminating the need for increased parking or restrooms.
7. I am concerned that several of the proposed “New” trails aren’t necessary. Examples of new trails that do not seem necessary include but are not limited to: New 9 replacing a trail scheduled to be obliterated, and New 10.
8. I would like to see directional trails established within the planning area, as needed. I would prefer to see trails designed/constructed to encourage directional usage, but if necessary, minimal signage would be acceptable.
9. I am concerned with a comment made by a USFS Employee at the August 19, 2013 Open House in Nederland regarding the possibility of Boulder County managing the work east of the Peak to Peak Highway. I encourage the Forest Service to take the lead role when trails transition between Forest Service land and County Open Space.
10. The final plan should explicitly adopt IMBA trail building best practices. These include: trails should be hand built. Trails should be as narrow as possible.
11. The final plan should explicitly describe the multi-use nature of the trails, including use by equestrians, hikers, runners, bikers, skiers, snowshoers, etc.
12. I am concerned with the lack of mention of groomed Nordic skiing in the plan. I would like to see experimental groomed Nordic skiing in the West Magnolia area. Groomed Nordic skiing can be done with light, snowmobile based equipment or heavier snowcat type equipment, and is a common use across USFS lands throughout the US. NATO would like to see grooming equipment excepted from the ban on motor vehicles and snowmobiles as mentioned in the proposed plan.
13. I would like the final plan to stress the Forest Service’s commitment to transparency of process and decision making, including specific commitments to community involvement in each stage of the planning and building process.
I think is all good stuff..
I believe it is also extremely important to state (and follow through) with a commitment to volunteering to do the work once it is approved...
Here is what I sent a couple of days ago.
"To whom it may concern.
I want to express my gratitude and excitement at the proposed trail development for the West Magnolia area, as well as my commitment as a volunteer to help make this project a reality.
Specifically I’d like to see the following:
- Provide a uphill and downhill trail experience that meets the users' desired trail experience (for example, continue NEW1 south, or NEW2 north), in the vein of what Schoolbus trail currently offers.
- Regional trail opportunities (for example, connecting NEW1 with Jenny creek/Winter Park, working with Eldora to open and improve XC Ski and snowshoe trails for year round use.
- Create trails with directional bias (uphill or downhill)
- Create trails with long 3+miles of sustained climbing and or descending (@6%-8% grade average)
- Include winter sport opportunities and access
- Formalize, consolidate and improve camping facilities. (to reduce use of area by transients and drug addicts)
Thank you again for this opportunity."
thank you everyone for your reasoned commentary and additional input. Both my husband and I submitted variations on thump's commentary (without even knowing it really), with emphasis on maintaining primitive backcountry feel in the trail experience and working with other user groups (BNC being primary) to facilitate winter use and additional connections to regional trail networks.
And yes, the Boulder County involvement concerns me. They've done little so far besides shown willing to be invasive and obstructive in the whole trail building and access equation.
The volunteer point WilburKookmeyer raises is one I am concerned with as well. Boots on the ground is what makes good things happen. I would like to note that mountain bikers aren't the only resource involved. My entire racing team (over 80 members, primarily roadie racers) did trail building days with BMA this year as part of our required volunteer service. From the discussion I've seen so far, it seems BMA and BNC are the 2 entities with the largest and most motivated volunteer base. They have a vested interest in this project and have been actively rallying their user bases. I am a member of both and have seen dozens of reminder emails from both groups on this subject over the past few weeks.
Last but not least I wanted to reiterate this FS quote that thump highlighted above:
Comments must be submitted by, Friday, September 6, 2013. If you do not comment prior to the deadline, you will be unable to file an objection once the proposal is finalized.
Posting a thread in the MTBR Front Range Forum in July of 2015, after trail work has been completed, to rant about changes up on West Mag does not constitute a valid objection. Submitting your concerns during this open public process does.
Reading between the lines on the Forest Service letter, the thing that I see most concerning to them is the growth of squatter groups and "unmanaged use" up there - which I believe is a dog whistle for "portable meth labs". Not to be judgmental or stereotypey, but based on the amount of trash and sketchy-looking groups I saw out on the Dots, I believe this is a pretty valid concern.
One thing I think the Forest Service understands, and that Boulder County would do well to take into account: if you close off or limit access to areas, then it just makes it easier for unauthorized usage to occur. I am originally from the Southwestern Ohio / Northern Ky area. Back when I was learning to mountain bike, I got involved with IMBA early on, mainly because my best friend's dad was a park ranger. At that time (late 80s/early 90s) Ohio State Parks was dealing with a growing problem of pot farms, underage drinking, squatter camps, rapists, pedophiles, etc... on public lands, not to mention a lot of random trail building / poaching by both motorized and passive users. One of the main things they did to help solve this was to work with IMBA, the Ohio Horseman's Council, and other recreational user groups (skiers, motocross, hiking, etc...) to build HUGE networks of recreational trails in problem areas. The philosophy is that the undesirables won't go where they're going to be constantly seen/monitored by legitimate recreational users, not to mention the trail networks made remote areas more accessible to emergency services, law enforcement, etc...
Another good volunteer resource to suggest would be expansion of the bike patrol program, wherever possible.
Today is your last day to submit comments. Get 'em in!
Sent my comments in, mostly along the lines Thump posted. The maintenance of the primitive feel to me is hugely important. Also, not reinventing and drastically changing any other trails, as was done with Sugar Mag, is very important to me. I added in BMA's stuff about uphill/downhill and connectors.
Nordic grooming would be cool too.
The forest circus and boulder county don't give a rats ass about mountain biking. Stay secret or become betassoized. Those trees weren't dead , they killed them by clear cutting . Locals can take care of trails just fine. Keep the bureaucrat bullshit out .
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