Times — and trails — are a changin’ in the Fraser Valley
January 8, 2015
I read Wednesday's letter to the editor from Norm Benson. Norm makes a point in that the times are a changing.
Trail use of days gone by are different than today and will be different than tomorrow. I remember the first days of mountain biking. Most trails were unmarked and every day was a new adventure. Iconic trails such Flume, Chainsaw, Broken Thumb, WTB and many others had yet to be conceived. D2 did not connect from the bottom to the top.
I still remember the day I first found the missing link to bridge the trails together. It was hidden in a small grove of aspens that formed a canopy above the thickly overgrown surface of the old road. The types of recreational use were very limited. Mountain bikes were a curiosity. Rules and regulations were few and most often unknown. The majority of "trails" were old logging roads. Singletrack was virtually nonexistent.
Fast forward from yesterday to today. Recreational use has increased exponentially not only in summer but in winter as well. In addition the type of use has changed. A trail system that was piece-mealed from existing extraction routes no longer met users needs. Unofficial user built trails began to appear throughout the valley. It became trendy and "cool" to build a trail. Many became popular routes, others came and went with little or no use. Then came the pine beetle, changing the landscape for our lifetimes and pulling resources away from the U.S. Forest Service. Mitigation and management of environmental impacts due to trail use were delayed.
Let's look at today and into the future. Mountain bike user needs are beginning to be met. An example is the addition of new trails, reroutes of old and a general awareness of what mountain bikers want. The building of unofficial user built trails has slowed greatly but not entirely. A trails master plan for all users is being completed.
The future will require a planned trail system. Tradeoffs will be made to determine what trails will live and what trails must pass on. There are a lot of factors that will impact the metamorphosis of the trail system. Wildlife, botany, erosion, archeology and type of use are just a few of the factors that will determine the course of trail design and construction.
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Personally, I feel optimistic that the trail system of tomorrow will be a better experience than that of today. We may lose some of the trails that we know but can come out ahead with a designed system that takes into account the wants and desires of mountain bikers and other users. Progress does not come as fast as we would like, but if the past few years of trail improvements are an indicator, then progress is well on the way.
Looking for more information? Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Mountainbikecapitalusa.com. Great site by the Winter Park Chamber!
Keith Sanders is the President of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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