Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bear Creek Watershed Assesment

Mail this letter to bcc@fs.fed.us and save the trails in your backyard!

Dear U.S. Forest Service:

I would like to express my concern and objections to the recent changes that are being proposed by the Bear Creek Watershed Assessment as it relates to the Greenback Cutthroat Trout.  For the last 5 years I have spent my spare time hiking many of the trails that are possibly closing. Most of my hikes and time spent in this area can be found on my blog (http://hiking-co.blogspot.com/) that I started to document the area and other things I find of interest. I understand that erosion from the traffic of some trails may be impacting the Trout, but I have some arguments that I hope can be seen as valid.

I have reviewed the proposed transport system as provided by figure 4 of the Bear Creek Watershed Analysis, and I have a few comments that I would like to share. My biggest issue with these changes is that all or portions of trails 622 .A, 668, 720 .A and 701 are looking to close. These changes will severely impact the amount of looping trails hikers will have access to. With the proposed changes, we are now limited to one major trail (667) and one loop consisting of trail 668, 701 and 720. As a hiker, it has been great to have options that do not cover the same ground over and over.

In addition, the remaining open trails are all almost motorized, leaving very little trails to non-motorized use. It seems that with the changes, the motorized users have access to almost all the trails, while hiker-only trails are limited to portions of sections 666 and 622. The trails that are looking to close see foot traffic as well as motorcyclists and bicyclists.  I can see where closing these trails to motorcycles makes sense, as they can cause major erosion, but I struggle with how the hiking community has to be impacted as well. I often come across families who are out enjoying the beauty these trails offer.

If trails 720.A, 668, 622.A and the lower portion of 667 and upper portion of 666 could remain open to non-motorized use, hikers would have more options for enjoying the beauty of the area. In addition, hikers would not have to contend with dirt bikes on these trails.  Foot traffic causes very little if any erosion compared to motor bikes and bicyclist. I understand trying to be fair, but look at the amount of trails that are for motorized use and the very limited amount of non-motorized trails. I believe that some concessions can be made on the trails mentioned above. I encourage leaving the trails open to foot traffic and then revisiting the issue in a few years. I am sure we will find that hikers and trout can co-exist.

As it relates to High Drive, I would encourage closing this road to vehicles. I often see people speeding down this road and kicking up dust, and endangering hikers and other motorists along the way. It is a beautiful drive, but it can be just as fun to walk, hike or bike if people so choose. Therefore, I urge you to reconsider, or at the very least, take into consideration how much pollution motorists make as opposed to hikers. I and others feel it will be a real shame to see this part of our beautiful nature area taken away.


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