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  1. #1
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    Need info in Montana

    I am appealing to folks here for any information about mountain biking in Montana's Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. This national forest is currently in the final review of it's managment plan and has proposed in the final draft recommendations 9 new wilderness areas. They intend to not allow biking in these places whether or not these become designated wilderness. Five of these wilderness areas, maybe more, are in historical mountain biking areas. I am trying to learn new facts about biking in these places in order to lobby B-D forest management right to the end.

    In case you have biked in S.W. Montana but didn't know what N.F. you were in, it spans from Chief Joseph Pass in the west to the Madison mountain range in the east. It starts along the MT.-ID. border near Monida Pass and stretches north to Phillipsburg.

    Of the 5 historical mountain biking areas that could be taken from us, I can vouch for 3 of them, and the riding is fabulous. A couple of these areas are so isolated, many Montanans haven't heard of them. They are already protected with a no-motorized designation, and are so seldom used that in many places trails have grown over and you find yourself searching to pick up the route again. There is long, rolling ridgeline trails above timberline; grassy alpine basins; and numerous peaks up to 10,500 ft. You can ride all day and usually not see anyone except your friends and various animals. There is hundreds of miles of barely used trails. It would be a crime if it was taken from us without a fight.

    The Beaverhead-Deerlodge management is still receptive to comment letters at this time, even though the last comment period has ended Oct. 31. The B-D managers claimed to recieve only 6 letters from bikers (out of 9,000) during their first comment period, and so they did not consider any mountain biking needs when forming their revised draft. (they admitted that they 'dropped the ball' forming the plan with mountain biking considerations, during the last public meeting) (they also did a very poor job getting the word out to the mountain biking community) They said they want to hear from us, but beware, they are also hard-core wilderness advocates. We need to give them a big earful about riding in the B-D N.F.

    They should still have informational CD's available if you care to get educated. Call the forest headquarters in Dillon at 406-683-3900. Or call the ranger in charge of the process, Marty Gardner, at 406-683-3860.

    We are so late with our comments because mountain bikers just don't have the organization and defensive drive that fosters good communication and awareness of threats to our natural habitat. We didn't know about the B-D N.F. plans because we were already concerned with the Gallatin N.F. plans. B-D N.F. didn't advertise to the public in Bozeman where there is an ample mountain biking population. IMBA has done a poor job getting the word out with their singletrack update reports. We were clueless until recently. Mountain bikers tend to just want to play, and don't care to lift a finger to understand issues. Some of you may be losing your favorite riding areas, or ones that you want to ride in the future. But I know that a few of you out there will help.

    Thanks, Greg
    an old rider from Bozeman

  2. #2
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    first info installment

    1. Most important for Bozeman area riders is the 401-368 trail. The situation is the B-D N.F. want to dump all their remaining sections along the west edge of the Madison range into the Lee Metcalf wilderness. Since this wilderness blocked almost all routes from the Madison valley over to the Gallatin years ago, there is no mountain bike activity or history. The proposed addition to this wilderness is about 30 sections. The only remaining bike trail across is well worth saving though. I have found that it was ridden 17 years ago, but maybe even before that. It was such an adventure, and mainly the province of outfitters, that most bikers never considered it. But a few people have ridden it annually for around 5 years now. There is a common misconception that it goes through wilderness. Not true. Most of the way is about 2 or 3 miles below the boundary. Many places the trail dips onto Ted Turners ranch and there is signs letting you know not to stray. It starts at Spanish Creek trailhead off of the Gallatin river. In the Gallatin N.F. the entire trail was just rebuilt to modern grades and standards, just like from the IMBA book. There is around 10 or so new bridges that get you over wet areas. But you'll have to wade through Cherry Creek. After about 18 miles of riding you cross into the B-D N.F. and get on either trail 315 or 368. The next 1 1/2 miles is what they want to close to bikes. Then the following 2 miles or so crosses private and BLM land. It's a really cool 23 mile ride.

    What we want to accomplish here is to keep a trail corridor open through the proposed wilderness. Biologically it would work fine. Politically it is a problem with some local wilderness organizations. They see it as a radical compromise and will not endorse the plan. Although we did just get the approval of the most dedicated wilderness advocate in the area. That still doesn't get the idea across to the B-D managers though. Beacause the 315 is trashed by cattle we suspect the 368 is a better bike trail.

    A trail corridor would be about 1/10 of 1 percent of this wilderness addition.
    Last edited by GregB406; 01-14-2006 at 06:06 PM. Reason: clarification

  3. #3
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    2. Mt. Jefferson in the Centennial Mts. This spot is only about 6 sections. I don't know about it firsthand. I have been assured that there is no singletrack trail at all. I can't endorse wilderness here because this area is so important for Idaho snowmobilers. I must remain outside on this one. I don't know if there is any biological issures here.

    3. Italian Peak. This area rocks. Plain and simple. It's small. 3 drainages. About 38 square miles or so. The Continental Divide trail cuts throught the middle of it. But the good riding is up the creeks and across parts of the actual divide. Also the many game trails are superb paths and shortcuts around the drainages. There is several fantastic loops around it. People have been biking there for about 15 years at least. (but not abusing it ) The area is so seldom used by bikers, hikers or anyone except hunters in the fall that the trails are growing over. The singletrack is really skinny. The whole place is already protected as non-motorized. Why make it wilderness. To ban mountain bikers of course. The place doesn't need more protection now, and it may never need it. But if you want to ride there after next summer, you must tell the B-D N.F. in a letter. This is the queen diamond riding spot in the B-D N.F. Go ahead and tell anyone about it who might write a support letter. It will never be overrun, no one can find it. The irony of turning this into wilderness is that it would show up on maps and probably get more use.

  4. #4
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    You're a hell of a guy for keeping us apprised of this. Thanks dude.
    "...it feels like.....times have changed."
    "Times maybe. Not me."


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    4. Uh, ok, if you say so. The next spot they want to close is the entire Snowcrest range. It's the largest of their proposals, around 150-200 sections. It also has been protected for years as non-motorized. Only in winter is some of it open to snowmobiling. There is a lot of grazing here (cows and sheep), and the forest is scattered. It is laced with trails, over 20 numbered trails. Something about the history is unknown to me, as the trails also have names on the maps. Lodgepole trail, Sawtooth trail, Gilbert trail, Snowcrest trail, Cornell trail. What's up with that? I don't know, but why aren't mountain bikers good enough to check this out. The Snowcrest trail is also #666, and it goes through a low area called devils hole. I gotta ride that next summer. There is 3 peaks over 10,000 ft. and ridgeline trails over most of them. Hundreds of miles of trails. The only drawback is the clay soil, you can't ride it when wet. But neither can anyone else. The best knowledge I have about biking there is through a friend. He says an employee's (of B-D N.F.)son rides there often and every ride is an epic. There is absolutely no reason to keep mountain bike riders from the Snowcrest.

    5. The east Pioneer mountains. This range is visible from I-15. The lower parts of it have been ravaged by mining and ATV use and abuse. These lower reaches are not in the proposal. They want to close the upper stuff , the entire top of the range. It's really rugged, rocky, and maybe not sutible for mountain biking except the Butte bikers would like to have a corridor from Brownes Lake over the top to Mono creek campground. But there may be other great rideable destinations in the range and that's where I don't have knowledge. Can someone help? In the far south, visible from Dillon, is Baldy Mt., a fantastic ski hill, covered with avy chutes. Is this spot contoversial? It might be the best ski area in S.W. Mt. and it will get locked away from even snowmobile access for backcountry skiers. If anyone can contribute to the knowledge base for the East Pioneers, please speak up.

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    6. An area in the N.W. Big Hole. It goes from Bender Point in the west to Pintlar Lake in the east. There may not be much controversy here. The lands border an existing wilderness. It all burned a few years ago. Enviros have blocked salvage timber harvests. On the other hand I suspect that at least the trail to Bender point should be saved for biking (you would approach from Chief Joseph pass area). But if anyone has any knowledge of this 40 square mile area please share it now. There may be a bunch of neat little trails we would be giving up due to lack of communication.

    7. A 7 section spot behind Georgetown Lake. I have been assured that it has no redeeming mountain bike value. It is just to the east of Storm Lake. Does anyone know any different?
    Last edited by GregB406; 01-15-2006 at 08:34 PM. Reason: fix sequence

  7. #7
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    Yeppers I say so...I don;t see anyone else spouting off this information...it ain't in the local paper. Us in the lolo area have had our attention diverted by the lolo forest revisions.

    I sure hope you can whip up a little contingent to comment on this for the BDNF.

    Good luck man, sorry if i offended ya by thanking you. BUt I'm one of the few friggin natives left in this state, and being friendly seems to be heading the way of the dinosaur in these here parts.
    "...it feels like.....times have changed."
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by akitadogg
    Yeppers I say so...I don;t see anyone else spouting off this information...it ain't in the local paper. Us in the lolo area have had our attention diverted by the lolo forest revisions.

    I sure hope you can whip up a little contingent to comment on this for the BDNF.

    Good luck man, sorry if i offended ya by thanking you. BUt I'm one of the few friggin natives left in this state, and being friendly seems to be heading the way of the dinosaur in these here parts.

    No offense taken. Yeah, we were occupied over here with the Gallatin plan, we found out too late about B-D's scheming. We have only been able to get about 25 people to write letters to B-D in Dillon. Mountain bikers are a sorry lot, and seem resistant to speaking up. On the other hand, there is sure a lot of vocal wilderness advocates. They have the B-D managers eating out of their hands.

    You're a friendly native? That's the best kind. I ride and ski and hunt with a bunch of em. I am glad to be accepted by the natives. (been here 26 yrs.)

  9. #9
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    8. The Electric peak - Cottonwood lake area. It's about 16 sections just north of Butte. Some of it is protected as non-motorized and some gets plenty of ATV action. This is a place that Butte bikers want to save. Maybe someone could enlighten us as to the virtues of this region. I don't know how it compares to the Snowcrest or Italian peak places, but at least you wouldn't have to drive 3 hours to get there. Local hangouts are precious.

    9. Sandstone ridge. This is a rocky talus kind of ridge with a poor trail for biking on part of it. It is about 10 miles N.W. of Phillipsburg. What is important here is it is part of a trail system that encircles Upper Willow creek. It takes about 2 days to ride the whole thing, about 40 miles +. Sandstone ridge trail looks into the proposed Quigg wilderness in the Lolo N.F. They don't want any bikers looking into the Quigg for heavens sake! They just picked a contour line on the map and grabbed the ridge for good measure. Those wilderness planners just keep picking and grabbing. The idea of locking out bikers here is elitist. The ridge is motorized in the summer, but my map for this spot is 15 years old so it may have other protections by now.

  10. #10
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    OK, that's pretty much all I know. If anyone can add to this stuff, do it now. We're running out of time very quickly. We don't deserve to be ignored by the Beaverhead-Deerlodge managers, which they admitted. We don't deserve to be locked out of these places, espescially without any study or consideration. If the Forest service would actually study mountain bike use and impacts around the B-D N.F. they would see the folly of the plan. But they won't, they think they're good, and so we're gonna get stomped. So post here if you can, and write to the B-D N.F. in Dillon.

    The wilderness act is like a really big gun. They are waving it around like a new toy, aiming at all sorts of targets. Believe me, they have other places in mind after these, too.

    Starting a line of camo riding gear isn't very funny.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregB406
    OK, that's pretty much all I know. If anyone can add to this stuff, do it now. We're running out of time very quickly. We don't deserve to be ignored by the Beaverhead-Deerlodge managers, which they admitted. We don't deserve to be locked out of these places, espescially without any study or consideration. If the Forest service would actually study mountain bike use and impacts around the B-D N.F. they would see the folly of the plan. But they won't, they think they're good, and so we're gonna get stomped. So post here if you can, and write to the B-D N.F. in Dillon.

    The wilderness act is like a really big gun. They are waving it around like a new toy, aiming at all sorts of targets. Believe me, they have other places in mind after these, too.

    Starting a line of camo riding gear isn't very funny.



    Gregg....I appreciate your time, effort, and the MUCH needed information.



    thanks, Chad

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregB406
    7. A 7 section spot behind Georgetown Lake. I have been assured that it has no redeeming mountain bike value. It is just to the east of Storm Lake. Does anyone know any different?
    There are a number of fire roads and some ancient trails in this area that hardly see any traffic, but I don't think they "have no redeeming mountain bike value". We do ride this area, and are trying to figure out how to ride from Storm lake to Twin Lakes (this brushes the fringe of the existing Wilderness Area). The Fourmile Basin area, I believe, is also lumped into this newest proposal and that'd be a pity to lose, it's a pretty fun out-and-back and is a good introduction to mountain biking for newbies. We did get an opportunity to quickly examine this stuff back in October but didn't have any time to comment. Anybody looking for input should contact Pete Kurtz at Sven's Bicycles of Anaconda (406)563-7988.
    "I'll disintegrate over time if I expect my body to try to keep up with my mind" -BM

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    perfect reply, finally!

    Hey El-Cid,

    Thanks! That is the exact kind of information I'm looking for. I'm glad you took the time to read all that stuff I threw out there. Get on the stick and write to Dillon right away because our time is going away fast. People in Dillon have no idea what is important to bike riders from Anaconda.

    The trail from Storm Lake to Twin Lakes, is it really overgrown or something? The map shows it clearing the current wilderness boundary, but is the map incorrect? Can you provide any other tidbits concerning the BDNF plan? Have you been out on Sandstone Ridge over by P-Burg?

    I like to bushwack old trails and game trails around home, and have several favorites. I like your spirit. See you at Pipestone sometime.

    Greg

  14. #14
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    Greg: Will do, we'll get some comments in ASAP. The trail from Storm Lake to Twin Lakes looks (on our maps) like it dips into the existing Wilderness area a couple of hundred yards but we have yet to make it to the Wilderness boundary to see how it's signed. There'll definitely be some hike-a-bike on that trip. We've ridden a little over in P-Burg, but the ultimate authority over there is Steve Gerdes (not sure if I spelled his last name right) who works for the Forest Service and is in the P-Burg office. There is a sweet single track trail (Trail 45) over here that was built by the CCC and goes from the Warm Springs Creek drainage to the Foster Creek Drainage that Pete Kurtz unearthed and that we ride a few times a year. You should come over the pass and ride with us sometime.
    "I'll disintegrate over time if I expect my body to try to keep up with my mind" -BM

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    why aren't we skiing right now?

    Quote Originally Posted by el-cid
    Greg: Will do, we'll get some comments in ASAP. The trail from Storm Lake to Twin Lakes looks (on our maps) like it dips into the existing Wilderness area a couple of hundred yards but we have yet to make it to the Wilderness boundary to see how it's signed. There'll definitely be some hike-a-bike on that trip. We've ridden a little over in P-Burg, but the ultimate authority over there is Steve Gerdes (not sure if I spelled his last name right) who works for the Forest Service and is in the P-Burg office. There is a sweet single track trail (Trail 45) over here that was built by the CCC and goes from the Warm Springs Creek drainage to the Foster Creek Drainage that Pete Kurtz unearthed and that we ride a few times a year. You should come over the pass and ride with us sometime.
    Mr. El-Cid: Trail 45 looks cool,(I've got my maps spread all over the place right now) do you do it as a clockwise loop?

    I ride with Gerdes about twice a summer, he's pretty fun. He hasn't been across Sandstone Ridge on a bike before though, but he said the south end of it out of Rock Creek is a good trail, and that the trail on the east side of upper Willow Creek in the Long Mountains is good too. Sandstone Ridge is the missing link in the loop of knowledge here. I'll contact Pete next week. Does Pete use this website?

    Greg
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's gettin dark.

  16. #16
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    Greg: My name's actually Chad. Yes, we ride Trail 45 clockwise, you climb up fire roads, and get a good chunk of singletrack that's inaccessible by anything other than bikes and hikers (never seen any horse tracks on it), then ride out on dirt roads with a couple of creek crossings. Another resource for the Rock Creek/Skalkaho area may be Chad at Red Barn. Pete doesn't hang out on here, but he lives at the bike shop so he's pretty easy to find most days.
    "I'll disintegrate over time if I expect my body to try to keep up with my mind" -BM

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  17. #17
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    Italian Peak last fall

    Here is some pics from Nicholia Creek area of Italian Peak. This is due to be closed if the B-D gets their way.
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    More Italian Peak stuff

    This was an out and back ride. After flurries the night before, we chased the snowline up. We actually lost the trail a couple times, but there is so many game trails it didn't matter. This was back in early Oct.
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