TPA’s role in helping to develop Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW), Planning Trails with Wildlife in Mind Guide and the Advisory Group for the development of the Guide.
The TPA was selected to help represent motorized interests and motorized recreational uses in the development of CPW’s revised guide for Planning Trails with Wildlife Mind and participate in the Planning Trails Advisory Group. The original document was titled Planning Trails with Wildlife in Mind (A handbook for Trail Planners) and was developed in 1998. Goals of this revised and updated document include helping people, organizations and groups to be proactive in considering wildlife when thinking about trails, trail planning, and management. The document will also include guidance for what wildlife issues should be considered for trails grant applications. The TPA is one of many organizations and representatives selected to participate on the Advisory Group. Below are the comments submitted by the TPA regarding the initial draft Outline for the Planning Trails with Wildlife Mind Guide:
Planning Trails with Wildlife in Mind
Comments for the
Draft Planning with Wildlife in Mind Outline
- The document/guide simply needs to provide a balanced range of options for projects, as the current edition fails to provide reasons to build trails or discuss minimal impact options. Resources such as The Great Trails Handbook by Dick Dufourd and NOHVCC must be listed and utilized as a reference and source of information. The vast amount of interagency trail planning and building expertise contained in this reference and the quality of information therein cannot simply be disregarded or ignored.
- The draft document/guide should address the benefits of the motorized trails program – this is a huge resource that has a proven track record of mitigating impacts from all types of recreational activity. The guide could assist in building support for similar programs from other interests.
- To facilitate clarity, prevent the possibility of confusion and to avoid an inappropriate hierarchy of biased priorities, it will be important to state early in this document/guide that Wildlife is not “the” priority or the “only” resource to be considered when planning trails. Wildlife is “a” resource, just like all of the many other resources upon the landscape that must be sustained, managed and appreciated when planning, developing and maintaining trails for human recreation.
- The document/guide should address some level of a social component of the relationship. There is not enough emphasis in the document/guide on restoring and re-building trust between managers (e.g., wildlife specialists, resources managers, land managers, government agencies, etc.) and the affected recreational user groups. Based upon past decisions and actions, there is undoubtedly disparity between different recreational trail user groups and their perceived level of trust and confidence in processes such as this one to fairly consider and honestly balance wildlife concerns with human recreation pursuits. In order to garner future public collaboration and ensure effective, open communication, there absolutely must be trust restored between the public (especially affected recreational user groups) and managers.
- Seasonal closures must apply to ALL user groups and not discriminate against any single user group or class of user(s). If closure is indeed necessary and important, than closer must apply to ALL users, not just some.
- How can “The Science” be challenged, refuted, updated, revised or appealed? A process for challenging “The Science” must be addressed, outlined and specified in this document/guide since science, technology and opinions will evolve and change over time and this document/guide must contain provisions for challenging and updating “The Science”.
- Chapter 2 states “ Engage Biologist Advisors”. It is equally important to “Engage Recreation Advisors and Users”.
- Chapter 1 states “Be open to a “no-trail” option. Concerned stakeholders must be equally OPEN minded to other options (i.e., a sustainable, high quality trail option) and work as diligently and conscientiously to find a trail based solution as a “no-trail” solution. This is an example of a situation where balanced solutions must be provided.
- The document/guide should also address issues or challenges where recreation is not the primary threat, but rather a marginal or low-level threat. The level of response needs to be related to and correlate to the level of threat of the activity to the species. This should apply fairly and consistently to all real or perceived threats and not just for recreation.
- How will this document work to enable for the enhancement, and improved quality of recreation along with growing and expanding recreational opportunities and not just be used to curtail, limit or restrict recreational opportunities?
- A trail and or trail based recreation is also a resource (just like all of the many other “resources” upon the landscape). Multiple-use, trail based recreation must have parity with all of the other resources in a program. Elimination and closure of trails or failure to meet a growing demand for trail based recreation will simply invite and encourage bad human behavior.