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  1. #1
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    Ask a BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner

    Howdy--

    If you have questions about the BLM process in general, how to get involved, what steps it takes to things started on public lands, I'm happy to answer your questions. I don't represent the "official" BLM opinion, but I can give direct answers and my personal observations and opinions for the best way to go about getting things done, and find the right contact information for your projects etc. Also, I ride! Currently I roll a Yeti ASR-7, a Specialized P@ (with Dt Swiss F630 rims) and a Fuse II Bmx (what I lovingly refer to as, "My Micro Ride". I also have a walmart special beach crusier that was donated to me becase it has a bottle opener on the forks.. I also Ride a lot of government chair, and I'm healing up from a broken clavicle, sternum, a few ribs and a torn Rotator Cuff (hense the upgraded rims on the P2) I street, I still love you!

  2. #2
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    How do you get started? In my area there is no mountain bike trails, yet plenty of four wheeler trails. Does the BLM have grants or projects available for rehab/trail development for mountain bikers? I appreciate any advice. Thank you in advance

  3. #3
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    First, locate the area or area(s) that you are most interested in, then get a local shop, or local club involved. Then, get surface ownership maps that will show blm usfs,other federal or state lands and private lands. Then Head out to the area with a GPS unit and do a couple of things. Hike your potential perimiter of the area (you may have to do this over a few days if it is large) and then walk some potential trail lines. If you have no experience building sustainable trails, reach out to those that do. That way your gps lines will make more sense to planners. Then find out who is repsonsible for recreation planning on the area you are interested in and have a meeting with them about potential for trails (this can also be a first step) in the area you are interested in. Give them the GPS files, get backing on an official trails proposal (read imbas guide to building sweet single track) and follow-up with the land manager/specialist that is slotted to work on your project. Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you, just found out that I don't have a torn rotator cuff, I have a broken shoulder orbital bone. Kinda bummed May impact my riding this spring.

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    Crappy deal on your shoulder, I hope you come out healthy and able to ride soon. I appreciate the advice.
    I would have to start the bike club and proceed with all the other steps. There is no club in my area for mountain bikers but I know my area has some prime mountain biking. This would be a ground level project because biking is not very big in my area. But I believe if you build it they will come. LOL I've struck up conversations with the few locals that mtb and they all are yearning for some single track since everything that we ride is mostly wheeler trails.
    What would be the best way to start a club? Flyers, Social media, Web?
    I have a small trail that I like to ride is mostly city owned with a little bit of private I find it overgrown by mid summer (it actually burned down in 2012) it is in need of some maintenance. I am planning on talking to a city official about what all is owned by the city and what is private/BLM and what is possible for development. There is a walking/running/ x sking path at the base of the hill along with a kids fishing pond, softball fields, playground and a small pavilion. I believe this is a prime area to add to an already good park. This might be my best bet for a good start to the area of single track. With tons of forest lands around 1 successful project will hopefully lead to more. :0)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by GONZMTBING View Post
    Crappy deal on your shoulder, I hope you come out healthy and able to ride soon. I appreciate the advice.
    I would have to start the bike club and proceed with all the other steps. There is no club in my area for mountain bikers but I know my area has some prime mountain biking. This would be a ground level project because biking is not very big in my area. But I believe if you build it they will come. LOL I've struck up conversations with the few locals that mtb and they all are yearning for some single track since everything that we ride is mostly wheeler trails.
    What would be the best way to start a club? Flyers, Social media, Web?
    I have a small trail that I like to ride is mostly city owned with a little bit of private I find it overgrown by mid summer (it actually burned down in 2012) it is in need of some maintenance. I am planning on talking to a city official about what all is owned by the city and what is private/BLM and what is possible for development. There is a walking/running/ x sking path at the base of the hill along with a kids fishing pond, softball fields, playground and a small pavilion. I believe this is a prime area to add to an already good park. This might be my best bet for a good start to the area of single track. With tons of forest lands around 1 successful project will hopefully lead to more. :0)

    I would recommend starting a facebook group. Personally, not as a blm opinion, I've found this to be effective. Facebook utilizes area proximics and can help connect with like minded riders in your area. If you have a shop they are someone you want to tie in with. Also I'm not promoting IMBA, however, If I were starting out I would cruise through their website and take a look at their membership kit and decide if that is where you'd like to get information etc. Your city is an excellent partner, you should have a recreation department or tourism department in your town/municipality. Get them talking about the possibility of a trail/trail system or a community trails coalition or county/city based trails group that recommends connectivity/green space. Municipalities and county governments often have louder voices and can partner with the BLM when an individual can not. You can put together a trail proposal (a little leg work) and cite the shimano report (google is your friend) for economic and healthy benifits of biking in a community. If you are looking to build a flow trail, downhill trail, or skills area (progressive) have a risk assessment section in your proposal. Managers want to know what their liability is, and lawyers are generally satisfied if you follow a recognized or national standard (see IMBA). Good luck! If you let me know where you are located via PM I can figure out which land manager or rec staff on public lands would be the key component for you.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for all the advice I will let you know what comes of it.

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    Good Luck!

    Let me know! I'd be happy to help in any way possible as you get to a bump in the road, give me a call.

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    Pretty quiet in this forum over the winter, I'm sure you'd get more questions when the snow is gone and people are building (depending on where you are).

    What would you say the percentages of riders at each skill level on BLM land are? i.e. % beginner/% intermediate/% expert
    Any figures on the percentage breakdown of trail users by category? i.e. % pedestrian/% equestrian/% motorized/% bike

    I guess these could be tough to answer, and differ a lot by site, but I would be very interested.

  9. #9
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by cerebroside View Post
    Pretty quiet in this forum over the winter, I'm sure you'd get more questions when the snow is gone and people are building (depending on where you are).

    What would you say the percentages of riders at each skill level on BLM land are? i.e. % beginner/% intermediate/% expert
    Any figures on the percentage breakdown of trail users by category? i.e. % pedestrian/% equestrian/% motorized/% bike

    I guess these could be tough to answer, and differ a lot by site, but I would be very interested.
    I won't speak for Jason but there is a lot of data on types of users on trails. As I'm sure you'd expect a lot of that varies by region (IE: Moab which heavily promotes itself as an MTB destination will have a higher percentage of MTB use on it's trails as compared to another place like rural Montana that has a lot of equestrian use)

    If there is data of MTB use by skill level on federal lands I've never seen or heard of it but a professional rec planner inside the agency would know better than me.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    I won't speak for Jason but there is a lot of data on types of users on trails. As I'm sure you'd expect a lot of that varies by region (IE: Moab which heavily promotes itself as an MTB destination will have a higher percentage of MTB use on it's trails as compared to another place like rural Montana that has a lot of equestrian use)
    Fair enough, I'll rephrase: Overall, roughly what percentage of BLM land trail users would you say cyclists make up?

    This is just out of personal interest. I'd say the percentages at my local site would be something like 90% bike / 9% pedestrian / <1% (illegal) motorized, but that's just a guess.

  11. #11
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    The BLM Tracks its use through a database called Recreation Management Information System (RMIS). ZRM is correct. The data is out there. In offices that are more Recreation oriented (IE Moab) there is potentially more accurate and more frequently collected data. (Larger recreation staff, larger recreation budget, more trail counters, and focused entry points/developed trailheads. In my area, it there is a large motorized community with one local club (small) that operate mostly in the urban interface. Hiking comes in second with mountainbiking third and equestrian use fourth. As we have developed our trail systems, we see a steady increase in mountain bike use numbers, and based on field observation only, our main base are staple intermediate riders (one local club) with moderate increases within our beginner population (based on trail days where folks show up without proper gear, newer, low end bicycles, and looking to learn how to ride. RMIS is the mechanism that we utilize as an agency to fwd numbers to congress and request and justify modifications to budgets so that we can be both proactive and responsive to trends in our local/regional areas. Overall, mountain biking is still increasing on public lands with divergences for Free Riding, Downhill, Freestyle BMX, Dirt Jumping etc all growing, and providing new management challenges/opportunities for land managers. I didn't specifically answer your question about percentages, but in general public lands match their communities pretty well, but not without lag. If you live in a motorized community, you'll likely have more motorized opportunities, if you live in a non-motorized focused community, then more hiking/biking opportunities, and if you live in a diverse community, then you should have diverse opportunities. Moab is widely known for both its mountain biking, and its motorized use. It is one of the durable areas of the country where they actually work well together with minimal conflicts due to use of the slick rock durable surface. BLM has a multiple-use mandate, which allows for almost all uses (including burning man). BLM is probably the only place where an event the size and scale of Burning Man could take place on public lands. Not really related to the post, but hopefully explains a little about the BLM.

  12. #12
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    Thanks, it's nice to hear about it from that perspective.

  13. #13
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    Yw

  14. #14
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasonoutside313 View Post
    The BLM Tracks its use through a database .......... BLM has a multiple-use mandate, which allows for almost all uses (including burning man). BLM is probably the only place where an event the size and scale of Burning Man could take place on public lands. Not really related to the post, but hopefully explains a little about the BLM.
    BLMBM Bureau of Livestock, Mining & Burning Man?

  15. #15
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    My personal favorites=
    Bureau of Lame Managment
    Bureau of Lots of Meetings
    Broken Lame Managment
    Brave Leaders of Men (just made that one up)

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasonoutside313 View Post
    My personal favorites=
    Bureau of Lots of Meetings
    That was my experience working for the BLM. 2-3 hour long meetings, right after lunch. Snore! Or, quick "standup meetings", intended to last no longer than 15 minutes, dragging on for an hour! It was impossible to get any work done!

  17. #17
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    Would love to work more with regional BLM. (Placer Calif) Our BLM trails guy will not allow anyone else other than their own Sweko Crew to cut trail. This is frustrating due to the width of their equipment, skill set of their operator and availability to follow through with local projects.
    Seems the only solution is to wait for his retirement. Suggestions?
    Learn to love it[SIZE="4"][/SIZE]
    www.foresttrailsalliance.org

  18. #18
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    Yes I have some suggestions. But first I'd like to clarify, are you just speaking about utilizing heavy equipment? As in you want to operate a skid steer, sweco or backhoe or mini/maxi ex? If so, he wouldn't allow that without a formal agreement for insurance safety reason and government contracting (red tape-a-thon). However, if you are talking about working on new trail or trail maintenance with hand tools (show up with a shovel-type work, and he is balking at that, you need to (just like a first date) develop a relationship of trust with him. Planners being the humans that they are have bad and good days, get offended, have preferences and hold grudges. Are you a member of a club? If so, you want to attend meetings, get involved in projects and support the rec planner (olive branch?). In other words, show up to work on their pet projects. If they like horses, offer to build horse trail, if they are motorized fans, help with motorized trailhead clean-up efforts. Offer to participate in public lands day projects. Offer improvement projects along the way. Your best bet is to develop that trust with the planner so that they can turn you loose on an approved project (or better yet, come work/ride with you). If you are in an unfortunate situation where you have a desk rider who has no ambition/passion or will to plan for their area, after attemping all these other methods, I'd work around them. However, it sounds like he is actually working on projects because they have a sweco and crew. Look for grant money that you or your club may be able to apply for to make projects cheaper for the government.

    Those are just some thoughts for me. I had the opposite experience. When I first got my job, bikers were leary of me because some of the previous planners (not all) failed to accomplish recreation goals based on our high oil and gas workload. I had to build a relationship with them by showing up, riding, and gaining their trust as well. At the end of the day, if you have a relationship with the planner that you have built, you will get good results. Just my thoughts, and I'm guessing that you probably have attempted a few of those things. The money aspect may be a really good way to go. If you can get grants that he can't apply for and bring money in for existing projects, it is a win win, and will make him look good to his boss too. Good Luck!

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