Archive | November, 2015

Dirt Rider Magazine Article: 2015 Colorado 600


2015 Colorado 600

Story And Photos By Sean Klinger
Dirt Rider Magazine

Oftentimes when we, or anyone for that matter, start talking about land management and dealing with the serious issues of our sport’s future, people begin to get squeamish, with feelings of guilt and denial. The purpose of this story is not to guilt-trip you or ask for your money, but hopefully it will paint a better picture of why you should participate in the Colorado 600 and what the future of off-road riding on public land holds.

For those unfamiliar with the Colorado 600, the first thing you should know is that it is a fan-freakin’-tastic event. At its core, the 600 is a four-day trail ride through the ridiculously cool single- and two-track of the Rocky Mountains with a select group of about 75 riders. When we say “select group,” it is because participants must apply to ride the event. The TPA (Trails Preservation Alliance) has set up the event to always include about a third returning invitees, a third core industry people, and a third new participants. This guarantees a good mix of people of many different experience levels, in both riding and dealing with land management.

Each day, multiple group rides start and end at the same location and range from dual-sporty, easy rides to expert level, borderline EnduroCross rides, all depending on the guide you choose to ride with and where they are going that day. There are about 10 dedicated guides who know the area extremely well, and the casual nature of the 600 encourages riders to seek other people to ride with and make some great friends in the process.

Brad Schluter, first-time participant, shared his experience with this sort of organization: “I think it is slightly less of like, ‘Here’s a beginner ride. Here’s a tough ride.’ Since all these guys are friendly it’s more, ‘Hey, join up in our group, and here’s what we are doing.’ Also, it has been great to meet new guys to ride with. I’ve already met four or five guys who live within an hour of where I do and who ride a lot. I imagine I’ll end up riding with them. Meet some new people, ride new trails, hang with guys who ride, and have a good time.”

Each morning, all riders gather for breakfast, and Don Riggle, director of  operations for the TPA, leads a discussion of current land-management issues, past defeats and victories, and upcoming matters that should be on our radar. There are also guest speakers who share what has and hasn’t worked in their particular riding areas.

At this year’s event there was a distinct theme to much of what was discussed: perspective. If you don’t know that you lost anything, how can you miss it, right? Unfortunately, the fact that so many trails have been closed over the years is something that is lost on the younger generations of trail riders. They have a modern perspective of the trails that we have and think that if we are just keeping the existing single-track, we are in good shape, but that isn’t the reality.

“Sadly what we have done is, we’ve gone on the defensive,” John Sawazhki, longtime CO600 participant, says, “And at the end of the year we say, ‘Well, we’ve only lost 20 percent.’ Somewhere along the line we need to go on the offensive and get some of it back. In Colorado, the TPA has done that, so there is some hope.”

At one breakfast discussion, we talked about the 2005 Travel Management Rule put in place by the Department Of Agriculture. Before this, the general rule of thumb was if an area, trail, or road isn’t specifically marked closed, it is assumed to be open for off-road use. But the Travel Management Rule basically reverses that idea. Now, if it isn’t specifically marked for off-road use, it is to be assumed closed. This is a major difference between the generations of trail riders. Many of the older guys talked about how they used to just ride from their garage and pretty much go where they wanted. This is a foreign concept to many younger riders because they’ve always had to load up the truck and go somewhere specifically marked to ride.

“Look around the room,” Don said at breakfast one morning. “We are the old guys in this fight, and we need younger guys involved. I don’t have all the answers; I don’t have all the new ideas. That needs to come from the new guys.” The simple fact of the matter is that Don and his cohorts in the TPA and other organizations fighting for off-roader’s rights are pretty much the first generation that has done this. They are all getting into their 60s and 70s, and although they can ride like the best of them, they aren’t going to be around forever. Simply, they need new members. “We are in a unique position as the old guys who have some income, some money,” Sawazhki continues. “We probably have more money than we have life left, so we can help with the money. But young guys, the new guys, they can help with the backbreaking work and fighting the establishment, if you will.”

Along those same lines, Scott Bright, ISDE and Enduro racer, wants younger riders to get involved. “Perspective is something that is lost on people who never saw what it used to be,” Scott says. “If you have a local riding area that you love to go to right now, and everybody has one, and somebody came in and had way more money than you did and they decided that they wanted to shut that down and wanted to use it for a nature preserve, how would that make you feel? Where would you go ride then? How big of a defense would you put up? That’s what the TPA is all about: making people aware of what’s going on. It’s really helpful for the younger generations to learn about all of the trails that were available 20, 30 years ago and the massive amount of trails that we have lost since then. If it weren’t for the organizations like the TPA there wouldn’t be anything left. “Something else, the Colorado 600 is about single-track,” Scott continues. “We are not out here fighting battles for ATVs or UTVs, or four-wheel drives, or snowmobiles, or anything like that. It’s all about preserving single-track for guys on motorcycles. If anyone cares about riding single-track on motorcycles on public lands, then they need to be aware of what the TPA is doing.”

With all this emphasis on getting new blood into these organizations, we don’t want to downplay the value of experience, both on and off the bike. Now is an absolutely great time to ride the Colorado 600 because there is so much to learn from the returning riders. Tim Haight, first-time participant, explains: “I was actually surprised at some of these riders’ abilities. Just looking at some of these guys, you wouldn’t expect it, but you find out that they are phenomenal riders. It’s really shocking. At the end of the day, I had a lot of new found respect for a lot of guys. They were really great.”

Brad Schluter had a similar sentiment. “It’s cool to ride with these more experienced riders,” he says. “You get the feeling that a lot of these guys have a lot of history in motorcycling, and they are willing to teach what they know. You learn a lot. Bike stuff to riding skills, you always learn a lot from riding with guys with more experience than you, how they tackle stuff on the trail. It was awesome.”

Here at Dirt Rider, we don’t have an easy answer because there is no one answer. But one thing we can say is that the guys and gals on the front lines fighting for the right to ride are going to be hanging up their hats soon, and we, the current riders and trail users, need to figure out the solution. After all, the future belongs to the young, as they say, so it is the young who have to protect it.

We understand that teenagers and even twentysomethings don’t have thousands of dollars lying around to donate. But, hopefully, they want to ride as often as possible. Joining a club is one way to not only help the sport but also to ride—a lot. Clubs put on races, clear trail, work with local land managers, and go on a lot of rides together. This is a great option for those who are “short on money but long on time.”

Another way to help the sport without changing much is to make sure all of your bikes are properly registered and make sure to pay the day or camping fees at OHV parks. Most of the money from permits and vehicle registration goes back to trail systems. Also, shop where you ride. Get your ice, water, food, and other ride day necessities at establishments around where you ride. That supports the local community and makes business owners see that off-road riders are a positive customer base.

Lastly, go on rides like the Colorado 600. Yes, it costs money and takes time, but the riding is absolutely incredible. And probably more importantly, the experience, the friends, the connections, and the knowledge gained are all way more valuable than the money you spend to get there. The bottom line is that the future is in our hands whether we like it or not, and we all have to decide what we are willing to do to make it a better and brighter place for the off-road community.


T H A N K S !
We’d like to point out that it takes a lot to put on this event and support the TPA. Here are the sponsors who support both the event and two-wheeled recreation.
• KTM North America
• Klim Off-Road Gear
• Motion Pro
• Dunlop Tires
• Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
• Rekluse
• Wolf Creek Lodge
• City of South Fork
• BRP Racing

Entire article can be downloaded here: pdficon_large.gif


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Video: 2015 Colorado 600

Dirt Rider Magazine Video
by Sean Klinger
Posted Oct 12, 2015

“Out of all of the riding events held throughout the year, the Colorado 600 is one of the rides that we look forward to the most. Not only are the trails, riders, and sponsors great, it is an symposium to talk about land access and trail system issues. We always walk away more knowledgeable, better informed, and with a positive outlook on the future of our sport.”

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Pike/San Isabel National Forest Lawsuit


November 19, 2015

Pike/San Isabel NF
Att: Erin Connelly, Forest Supervisor
2840 Kachina Drive
Pueblo, CO 81008

Re: Lawsuit Settlement

Dear Ms. Connelly:
The Trail Preservation Alliance (“TPA”) would like to reaffirm our commitment to maintaining sustainable multiple use recreational opportunities on the Pike/San Isabel (“PSI”) National Forest following the settlement of recent litigation challenging 500 miles of routes currently on the MVUM. The TPA has partnered with the Forest Service at significant cost in the defense of this and many other legal challenges to multiple use recreation on USFS lands. These legal proceedings have resulted in significant wins for multiple use recreation, as exemplified by the dismissal of general challenges to MVUMs on the Rico/Delores RD of the San Juan National Forest. TPA submits that the precedent from this precedent, mainly that scientifically defensible trails are legally defensible, must be a cornerstone of planning under the tight court mandated requirements of the PSI settlement.

TPA is aware that funding of many aspects of trail development and maintenance projects have been knotted on the PSI since this litigation was filed. Many districts have not undertaken short term maintenance for duration of lawsuit and other have stopped implementation of projects that have been approved by site specific analysis, such as the South Rampart Travel Plan, routes in and around the Hayman Burn/ Wildcat Canyon and Badger Flats areas. These are routes and projects that benefit all users. TPA vigorously asserts implementation of these decisions must move forward and ready to support any efforts to obtain necessary funding through the CPW OHV grant program.

TPA further supports any efforts to leverage the good management crews, funded by the CPW OHV grant program, that are in place on many districts of the PSI. TPA can verify that these crews are highly effective in addressing local resource issues and will be a major tool for land managers moving forward. These crews should be able to address any short term resource issues that might be present from the litigation and avoid the loss of long term opportunities due to short term resource or maintenance issues. A complete review of the projects for these crews next summer should be undertaken. TPA is very willing to assist in these efforts. TPA is further aware that multiple use trail based recreation is a significant positive year round economic benefit to many local economies in the PSI area such as Lake George, Deckers, Florissant, Hartsel and Woodland Park. TPA submits that maintaining current high quality recreational opportunities is a critical component to the basic stability of these communities and their ability to provide basic services necessary for these communities to move forward.

TPA would also like to address their experiences involving trail proposals outside the PSI, while the lawsuit has moved forward. There has become a belief that creating single use trails to benefit small user groups is the path forward. TPA submits single use trail development should be avoided and would note that many issues have come forward in development of these types of trails. Funding is often problematic as the only user group who has funding for trail development and long term sustainability is the motorized community, who is often sought to be excluded from these proposals. TPA vigorously supports the position that different types of trails provide different experiences to different users but also assert that each type of trail should be managed to remain open to the largest number of users and allow for the most funding long term. Bear Creek efforts have proven to be difficult to enforce as motorized organizations are one of the only ones supporting USFS interim closures. TPA vigorously supports USFS efforts to maintain motorized recreational access and avoid possible Greenback Cutthroat Trout habitat issues in the area. Building partnerships is critically important to move forward on the PSI and this cannot be done by excluding groups for the benefit of other groups.

TPA is also working toward combining many of the new trail management resources and updates to various scientific documents involving recreation, such as the new Lynx conservation assessment and strategy in the near future for your reference. TPA is aware that often awareness of some of these documents is exceptionally limited and hopes these resources allow for best available science to be relied on as PSI moved forward under the aggressive litigation deadlines. TPA would welcome a discussion of these opportunities and any other challenges that might be facing the PSI moving forward at your convenience. Please feel free to contact Don Riggle at 725 Palomar Lane, Colorado Springs, 80906, Cell (719) 338- 4106

Scott Jones, Esq.
TPA Authorized Representative

Don Riggle
Director of Operations
Trail Preservation Alliance

CC: San Carlos; Pikes Peak; Salida; South Park; South Platte; Leadville RD

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Buena Vista Trail Proposal

BLM Royal Gorge Field Office
Att: Linda Skinner
3028 East Main Street
Canyon City, Co 81212

RE: Buena Vista Trail Proposal

Dear Ms. Skinner:
Please accept this correspondence as the comments of the above Organizations with regard to the Buena Vista Trail Proposal. At the landscape level, the Organizations vigorously support two foundational principals: 1. that development of multiple use trails; and 2.trails should not be developed only to benefit a small user group. These foundational principals cause serious concerns with the specific trail development allocation in the Buena Vista Proposal. The Organizations vigorously support the development of multiple use single track trails in the Proposal, more specifically the Sleeping Indian trail. While we support the multiple use trails there is serious concern with both the basic need and direction that has been adopted for the management of other routes in the Proposal. There simply needs to be a far more balanced allocation of routes being developed. This balance can be achieved by allowing multiple use on routes proposed or by working with local motorized users to determine where additional trails would be appropriate.

The development of what is essentially an advanced mountain bike trail network is very concerning in the Proposal given the tenuous position of funding for all recreational activities on federal lands, the heavy usage of the Fourmile area already, limited benefit from the trail network. The Organizations would note that single track trail is some of the most sought after recreational opportunities and also some of the hardest to find in Colorado due to very limited amounts being available. It is the Organizations position that if trails are developed in the Proposal area, they must be overwhelmingly multiple use, as there is simply insufficient funding available to allow each user group to have a separate trail system on public lands and such a model does not reflect the multiple use model in place on public lands.

Prior to addressing the Proposal, we believe a brief summary of each Organization is needed. The Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (“COHVCO”) is a grassroots advocacy organization the 150,000 registered OHV users in Colorado seeking to represent, assist, educate, and empower all OHV recreationists in the protection and promotion of off-highway motorized recreation throughout Colorado. COHVCO is an environmental organization that advocates and promotes the responsible use and conservation of our public lands and natural resources to preserve their aesthetic and recreational qualities for future generations.

The Trail Preservation Alliance (“TPA”) is a 100 percent volunteer organization whose intention is to be a viable partner, working with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to preserve the sport of trail riding. The TPA acts as an advocate of the sport and takes the necessary action to insure that the USFS and BLM allocate for trail riding to receive a fair and equitable percentage of access to public lands. For purposes of this document COHVCO and TPA are identified as “the Organizations”.

1. History.

The Organizations are very familiar with the recreational opportunities that are provided by the Fourmile area and the heavy utilization of these opportunities that is currently being experienced for all recreational activities. The Proposal references the significant increases in all types of usage for this area in the introduction and this increased visitation would be consistent with our experiences. It has also been our experience that usage of this area is from a widely diverse group of users including the OHV community, those camping, fishing, picnicking and generally relaxing. It has been the Organizations experience that the Fourmile is an overwhelmingly multiple use area. The Organizations must also state that it has been our experience that while there are clearly mountain biking visitors to the Fourmile area, this visitation is certainly not disproportionate to other usages of the area. It has also been our experience that most of the mountain bikers utilizing the Fourmile area are families and at best intermediate riders. The Organizations are very concerned that while the expanded usage of the area for a very small user group is identified, the Proposal simply never addresses how the basic management issues is the Fourmile area will be improved when the Proposal is implemented. The Organizations submit that any project in this area must benefit all users as this is truly a multiple use area.

The Organizations must express a high level of frustration at both the lack of funding for development and operation of the trail network. Merely drawing routes on a map does not make a successful trail network in the long run. The Organizations are further concerned that the desires of a small user group have been placed well ahead of other long term partners who have directly funded and supported the greater good of all recreational usage in Colorado for decades. The Organizations have been highly supportive of a wide range of programs and efforts through the CPW trails and OHV grant programs, such as the law enforcement program and good management crews, which directly fund more than $2,000,000 per year to land managers to benefit all recreational efforts. The multiple use organizations have also been annually identified as the single largest source of volunteer labor for trail maintenance.

While the Organizations are aware these efforts are targeting all recreational usage, the Organizations would expect that all other user groups would be brought into alignment with the concept of greater good of recreation in their proposals. If one partner is forced to pay the lion’s share of the bills and others are allowed to develop proposals that exclude the other partner, that is simply not a partnership. This type of alignment simply has not been provided in this Proposal given the overwhelming benefit of the Proposal to a single user group.

2a. Funding must be identified for development and management of the proposed trail network.

The Organizations are aware that there is a funding crisis in terms of recreational activities on public lands and the motorized community is the only user group that has partnered with federal land managers to attempt to offset these issues. These efforts have resulted in a program that is approaching an annual budget of $8 million annually that overwhelmingly benefits federal land managers from the registration of OHVs. The motorized community has also been consistently identified as the largest source of volunteer labor for maintenance and development of trails in Colorado. No other user group has approached this type of active support for recreation. Given the current funding situation for federal land managers, the Organizations must express serious concerns when funding for both development and maintenance for all facets of any Proposal is not clearly identified.

The lack of funding for trail systems and recreational usage of public lands is an issue that has been extensively addressed in recent years. A GAO review of the USFS has identified that there is a $314 million dollar national backlog on trail maintenance on USFS lands. 1 The GAO also concluded that only 25% of the existing trail network is financially sustainable. While this report specifically identified the major role that OHV grant programs play in mitigating this issue, the report specifically found that a lack of funding for non-motorized trails is a major contributor to the issue. While the GAO report does involve analysis of issues not relevant to the current proposal, like trail maintenance in Wilderness, the basic determination of the report must not be overlooked. Routes that are exclusively non-motorized are entirely unsustainable financially and the OHV communities efforts in maintaining multiple use routes is an important tool in addressing this issue. It is the Organizations position that the current proposal exacerbates a know and unresolved problem and fails to integrate a known and effective funding source. This simply makes no sense.

As a result of this experience, the Organizations are able to say with a high degree of confidence that the current scope of work will cost $100,000 to $200,000 to properly develop and manage. There are many costs of basic operation of a trail network that simply are not addressed. The Organizations submit that the proposal will need basic ongoing trash service, parking lots and toilet facilities in order to provide a quality recreational experience. The Organizations are aware that the development of a basic pit toilet facility, costs $10,000 to $15,000 to plan and develop for each location. These types of basic costs significantly contribute to the backlog of maintenance on trails on federal lands, and these costs simply have never been addressed in the EA. It has been our experience that volunteers are often not drawn to these basic daily operational type opportunities and are often poorly suited to perform these services. Either contractors or federal employees must be relied on to perform these services. These costs simply must be accounted for. The Organizations have worked hard to address these types of costs but this support can only be provided for trail networks that are open to the multiple use community.

In addition to the GAO report, the Organizations are also aware that many other user groups have identified the complete lack of funding for basic maintenance that is currently facing trails in Colorado. The Colorado 14ers group recently issued a statewide report card that gave front range trails to 14,000 ft. peaks a “D” in terms of maintenance. 2 While volunteers have worked hard on these trails, this report again highlights the need for ongoing funding to support these trail networks. If existing non-motorized routes are not being maintained with volunteers, the Organizations must question why this model would be allowed to be the basis for new trail development. The basic model appears to be broken. The Organizations submit that making these routes multiple use would expand volunteer support and directly make significant funding available to perform basic maintenance and off-set operational expenses.

2b. Soils in the Fourmile area are decomposed granite and will need ongoing maintenance.

The Organizations are very familiar with the Fourmile area and are aware that most of the soil is made up of decomposed granite. The Organizations are aware that even the best designed trails are going to need ongoing maintenance in these soil conditions.

3a. The purpose and need of the Proposal does not reflect limited demand for bicycle routes on federal public lands.

Compounding the Organizations concerns about a lack of funding for the project is the fact that the Proposal provides a very grim picture when looked at purely from a cost/benefit analysis for any money that might be available from the agency. The Organizations must question that even if agency funding is identified for the Proposal, is the development of an extensive trail network for the benefit of a very small user group the best allocation of the funding. We submit that it is not as the benefits of the Proposal are very limited for most users as the overwhelming percentage of visitors to the Fourmile area are multiple users and not dedicated mountain bikers.

The Organizations are aware that the USFS has an active monitoring system in place for the monitoring of all types of recreational visitation to public lands. This information is now highly relevant to adjacent BLM lands as USFS and BLM have adopted an interagency memorandum adopting NVUM as the official visitation measure on both USFS and BLM lands.3 A review of this information at the regional level reveals that ALL bicycle usage is 10th on the list of why people visit federal lands. The 2014 regional level NVUM research provides the following breakdown of visitation to federal public lands:


Given that all bicycle usage is 10th on the regional list of reasons people visit federal public lands, the basic direction of the Proposal seeking to primarily benefit a small user group becomes an immediate cause for concern as almost every other user group ahead of bicycle users on the visitation scale is excluded from using the proposed trail network. This makes any cost benefit or compelling need for single use trails difficult to justify as research indicates there are not a lot of users seeking these opportunities in the region.
The Organizations submit that a major reason for the low visitation of bicycle users to federal public lands is that many local communities have developed high quality bicycle based recreational opportunities with greenway trails and urban corridor based trail systems. While local communities have been very effective in developing these bicycle based opportunities, the desired recreational experiences of many other users groups simply do not match well with recreational opportunities in these urban interface areas. Given the large opportunity for this type of recreation already in place, many of the public simply own bicycles that are not able or not well suited to be ridden off a paved or smooth hard surface trail. Many of the public simply have limited desire to ride in the backcountry due to their desire to ride with family members making opportunities on federal lands a poor match to the recreational opportunities they are seeking.

As the Organizations have already identified, there is limited demand for bicycle opportunities on federal public lands in the region, which will result in limited benefit from a single user group trail network. When more localized data is reviewed, the NVUM research clearly indicates that demand for bicycle recreation is lower on the Pike/San Isabel NF that it is on the regional level.

Given the comparatively low demand for bicycle trails on federal public lands, the Organizations vigorously assert that the current allocation of routes simply cannot be defended when it is looked at from a cost benefit analysis. The Organizations submit that the purpose and need of the project must be realigned to reflect the multiple use nature of the area and to return a positive cost benefit analysis of any agency money that might be allocated to the project. Research simply does not support the current allocation of routes.

3b. Benefits from the Proposal will be further limited by the advanced nature of the trails to be developed.

The possible benefit of the Proposal to the general public becomes more of a concern when the nature of the trails to be developed are reviewed. Many of the public own bicycles and frequently use them for recreation, but most are far from a more or most advanced type of rider. While most bicycle users are intermediate at best, the overwhelming portion of the trails to be constructed are “more advanced” or “most advanced”. This means that the overwhelming portion of the public will simply be unable or not equipped to ever traverse these routes. Again this small target market gives the Organizations significant concerns that any funding that might be directed towards the project would result in very limited benefits. Given the huge demand for opportunities in the Fourmile area and budget issues facing federal land managers, such an allocation of resources should be a concern. Any federal funding must be applied in a manner that benefits the most users. It is the Organizations position that a multiple use trail network in the area would significantly alter the cost benefit analysis in favor of developing a network.

3c. A lack of access is a major barrier to Hunters in the Fourmile area as well.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation recently released an extensive study on the factors limiting persons from entering or continuing to participate in hunting related activities. The NSSF report specifically concluded a lack of motorized access is the single most important factor for agency influence, stating as follows:

“Difficulty with access to lands for hunting has become not just a point of frustration, but a very real barrier to recruiting and retaining sportsmen. Indeed, access is the most important factor associated with hunting participation that is not a time-related or demographic factor—in other words, the most important factor over which agencies and organizations can have an important influence (Responsive Management/NSSF, 2008a).”6

The NSSF report also specifically identified that motorized access is largest mode of hunting transportation, as the following percentages of hunters relied on the following modes of transportation:

1. Car & truck 70%
2. Walking 51%
3. ATVs 16%7

The NSSF report further found that 56% of hunters experienced hunting related restrictions due to limitations on motorized access and that 54% of hunters states that closures of public lands by government agencies. Similar sentiments to the NSSF report are echoed by the CPW herd management plans for both deer and elk in the planning areas, which identify that continued limitations on access due to private land development are a major concern. 8

These are issues that could be resolved in the Proposal area by addressing true multiple use recreational access issues, rather than advancing a single user group. The Organizations would note that any bike related travel means failed to make this list of hunter related transportation devices. The Organizations would note that mountain biking only routes will result in a minimal benefit to the hunting community, as these routes would be very difficult to retrieve game across.

4a. Multiple use trails are the true economic driver.

BLM scoping documents clearly identify that economic benefits to the Buena Vista area are also an objective of the Proposal. Again the Organizations must question how the Proposal relates to this objective as the Organizations are intimately aware that for an activity to be an economic driver, the resource must be utilized by a large number of visitors and these visitors must spend money. The Organizations are very concerned that accurate economic analysis be relied on for the proposal as resources that might be otherwise available for multiple use recreation are being diverted towards the Proposal in a manner that simply will never achieve this goal. As the Organizations have already identified, extreme mountain biking is not a large sport in terms of the number of participants. When the spending profile of the mountain biking community is addressed, there are many other user groups that spend far more per day than mountain bikers who will be excluded from the trail network. These issues directly undermine any chance of the Proposal becoming a true economic driver.

The Organizations are intimately aware that multiple use is true driver. COHVCO has undertaken an economic contribution analysis of OHV recreation in Colorado, which concluded that the use of registered OHVs in the central region of Colorado result in more than $230 million in revenue and results in more than 2,700 jobs9 . A copy of this study has been included with these comments for your reference. The Colorado Office of Tourism has also undertaken a review of the economic contribution of tourism in the planning area. This report found that multiple use tourism results in Chafee County alone results in $82 million in revenue and 995 jobs. 10

CPW undertaken a review of the economic contributions of hunting and fishing in Colorado which determined that $55 million in spending and 385 jobs result from these activities in the Fourmile planning area.11 The hunting and fishing community has also identified that a lack of access is the single largest barrier to the development of new participants in hunting and fishing and also the largest barrier to those wanting to undertake these activities. These are user groups that currently would basically be precluded from obtaining any benefit from the Proposal.

As part of the NVUM process the USFS has a developed analysis process for comparative spending profiles of recreation activity and visitation in the NVUM analysis process. The low levels of visitation to federal public lands from mountain bike recreation has already been addressed in previous portions of these comments. The conclusions of NVUM research regarding the comparative spending profiles of user groups are summarized as follows:

The Organizations vigorously assert that these spending conclusions support significantly lower economic benefits from mountain bike recreation and correspond to the significantly higher economic benefits that accrue from other visitation to the planning area. The Organizations submit that creating a single use trail network for a small user group that spends significantly less than the user groups that are being excluded will not result in the activity being an economic driver. Rather this type of planning could actually result in lower economic benefits flowing to the planning area after the proposal.

Many motorized and multiple use trail based projects have been highly effective in driving local economies, such as Paiute Trail System in Utah and Hatfield McCoy Trails in West Virginia. The Paiute Trail System has experienced over $1 million in annual contribution from the trails network and the Hatfield McCoy trail network provides approximately $8 million per year to those local communities . Given the concrete contributions of these highly successful multiple use trail projects, the Organizations would be hesitant to support the projected $81 million that the Proposal asserts as a benefit, given these differences and the differences that are clearly evident between this estimate and the benefits that have accrued to the City of Whisler. Again the Organizations believe this type of accurate information and analysis is the cornerstone to any partnerships that might be developed in the future.

4b. Economic analysis of mountain biking recreation must be carefully reviewed.

The Organizations are very aware that the mountain biking community likes to rely on an economic contribution study from Whisler BC to establish that mountain bike based recreation is a significant economic driver. The Organizations have reviewed this document and have serious concerns regarding the relevancy of this document to most trails development proposals and that the study often is simply not accurately summarized.
The Organizations obtained a copy of the Western Canada Mountain Bike Study of mountain bike recreation (“Whisler study”) that was the basis for the economic analysis portions of the Proposal. A complete copy of this study has been included with these comments for your review. After reviewing the Whisler Study, the Organizations are very concerned about the accuracy of the contributions estimated in the Proposal, as the Whisler conclusions that generate contributions at $133 per day are based on significantly different types of recreational activities than the usage to be developed in the Proposal. The Organizations believe the Proposal has provided significantly misleading economic analysis by not correlating the usages addressed in the Whisler Study with the usages in the Proposal.

A brief outline of the Whisler Study will exemplify these concerns. The Whisler Study addressed four distinct riding areas and recreational mountain bike experiences in and around Whisler, BC. The Study refers to these areas as the Whistler Bike Park, Whisler Valley, Squamish and the North Shore and briefly summarizes these areas as follows:

“Trails on ‘the Shore’ are challenging for even the most experienced freeriders, Squamish has a multitude of trails for epic cross-country rides as well as freeride trails. Whistler features both cross-country trails throughout the Whistler Valley and the Whistler Bike Park features 44 lift accessed downhill trails for all skill levels.”13

The Whisler study specifically states that the Whisler Bike Park is significantly different recreational experience than the other three riding areas and that there is little cross over between users of the Whisler Bike Park with other areas. The Organizations do not contest that Whisler Bike Park generates $16.5 million annually as a result of the 44 lift accessible bike runs and that this spending accrues at an average rate of $133 per night per user. 14 The Organizations do question the relevance of these conclusions to the Proposal, as the Organizations are unable to find any reference to the use of ski lifts or other high developed facilities available in the Proposal area.

The Whisler study clearly finds there are very different levels of economic contribution that result from usage of the other three riding areas that are far more relevant to the Proposal in terms of levels of development. The economic benefits that result from the less intensively developed trail network in the Whisler area only results in $10.3 million in economic benefit, 15 which accrues at significantly lower per day rates ($39 to $93) than more intensive development and usage. 16 These spending profiles range from 25% to 70% of the estimates that are relied on for all usage in the Proposal. The Organizations vigorously assert that the economic contributions of the Proposal must be based on the spending profiles found in the less developed areas researched in the Whisler analysis as this most accurately reflects the direction and intent of the Proposal.

4c. Single use trail development projects have had limited success as an economic driver.

The Organizations are aware that many communities have targeted an overly narrow vision for economic development based on downhill mountain biking and that these economic development projects have become somewhat less successful than anticipated. Several such examples would be such as Mt Snow and Killington ski areas in Vermont or Mammoth Mountain in California. These ski areas embraced extreme mountain biking to the exclusions of other user groups in an effort to stimulate summer economic activities. These efforts did not yield anticipated results and Killington is now actively seeking out the motorized community for events such as the Jeepers Jamboree, now held annually at Killington.

The Organizations would be concerned that any single minded economic development plan that would be based on mountain biking to the exclusion of other uses would be significantly limited by the high quality opportunities that area already available in other locations in Colorado. Unlike Whisler BC, where there is little competition for mountain bike visitation, the Organizations would also note that there are many other mountain bike specific trail networks in the vicinity of Planning area, such as Moab, Utah, Crested Butte resort, portions of the Colorado River Valley BLM Office and Fruita, Colorado. These exceptional alternatives will impair the ability to draw any mountain bikers in numbers to offset lost revenues from user groups who may leave the Fourmile area.

5. Conclusion.

At the landscape level, the Organizations vigorously support two foundational principals: 1. that development of multiple use trails; and 2. trails should not be developed only to benefit a small user group. These foundational principals cause serious concerns with the specific trail development allocation in the Buena Vista Proposal. The Organizations vigorously support the development of multiple use single track trails in the Proposal, more specifically the Sleeping Indian trail. While we support the multiple use trails there is serious concern with both the basic need and direction that has been adopted for the management of other routes in the Proposal. There simply needs to be a far more balanced allocation of routes being developed. This balance can be achieved by allowing multiple use on routes proposed or by working with local motorized users to determine where additional trails would be appropriate.

The development of what is essentially an advanced mountain bike trail network is very concerning in the Proposal given the tenuous position of funding for all recreational activities on federal lands, the heavy usage of the Fourmile area already, limited benefit from the trail network. The Organizations would note that single track trail is some of the most sought after recreational opportunities and also some of the hardest to find in Colorado due to very limited amounts being available. It is the Organizations position that if trails are developed in the Proposal area, they must be overwhelmingly multiple use, as there is simply insufficient funding available to allow each user group to have a separate trail system on public lands and such a model does not reflect the multiple use model in place on public lands.

If you have questions please feel free to contact Scott Jones, Esq. at 508 Ashford Drive, Longmont, CO 80504. His phone is (518)281-5810 and his email is


Scott Jones, Esq.
COHVCO & TPA Authorized Representative

Don Riggle
Director of Operations
Trails Preservation Alliance


1 See, Government Accountability Office report to Congressional Requestors GAO-13-618; Forest Service Trails- Long and Short term improvements could reduce maintenance backlog and enhance system sustainability; June 2013 at pg.

2 See link

3 A summary of these efforts is available here

4 See, USDA Forest Service; National Visitor Use Monitoring Report for USFS Region 2, Round 2, Last Updated May 23, 2012 pg 21.

6 See, National Shooting Sports Foundation; Issues related to hunting access in the United States; Final Report 2010 at pg 7. This document will be referred to as the NSSF report for purposes of these comments.

7 See, NSSF Report at pg 56

8 See, Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Jack Vayhinger CRIPPLE CREEK DEER MANAGEMENT PLAN DATA ANALYSIS UNIT D-16; GAME MANAGEMENT UNITS 49, 57, 58, 581 November, 2007.

9 See, McDonald et al; COHVCO; Economic Contributions of Off Highway Vehicle Use in Colorado; August 2013 prepared by Louis Berger and Associates at pg 17

10 See, Colorado Tourism Office Study Dean Runyan and Associates at pg. 38.

11 See , CDOW study the economic impact of hunting, fishing and wildlife watching performed by BBC Research and Consulting (September 2008) section IV at pg 16.

12 See, UDSA Forest Service NVUM Analysis; Stynes and White; Updated Spending Profiles for National Forest Service Visitors by recreational activity; November 2010 at pg 6.

13 See, Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association; Sea to Sky Mountain Biking Economic Impact Study- Overall Results (undated) at pg 5. For purposes of these comments this document will be referred to as the Whisler Study.

14 See, Whisler Study at pg 5

15 See, Whisler Study at pg 1.

16 See, Whisler Study at pg 11.

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