The map I submitted
So I responded to Steve Brown’s email. I tried to answer his questions about usage, parking, time frames, etc. I think we both realize that the trail won’t get built any time soon due to the logging. To me, that’s fine. I’m looking big picture. If the trails at UWF get built on, it won’t be for a while, maybe 5-10 years. Hopefully by then, Blackwater will be kicking. My impression is that Steve and I are on the same page.
The next day, I get a reply to my reply. All of a sudden everyone is concerned that the trail uses to much of the parcel, the trail is impacting to much habitat. They were”very concerned” about the impression that the bikers will be monopolizing the parcel. And they were “very concerned” about the 100′ spacing between trails. Maybe a 4-6 mile loop with 300-400 foot spacing. I was sort of confused by the whole thing. We sat through all the meetings. All the talk was about hunting, boating, camping and fishing. All the other user groups were being catered to, whether it be parking areas, boat ramps, floating piers. The hunters have free reign over all the parcels. The water management district had already decided what they were going to do before we had our first meeting. Cyclists just happened to show up to be a user group, but we didn’t fit into the plan. And to me that’s not a problem. At the last meeting, it becomes clear that we get the least desirable of parcels, being adjacent to the dump and the parcel just north of that. Again, that’s fine with me.After looking at the parcel, it look like something that could be quite nice. I was pleased to be a part of the process. We don’t require much, if anything, except permission. We don’t impact anymore than hikers or runners, certainly much less than equestrians.
The concept I proposed was 8.25 miles long on a parcel approximately 575 acres. I was concentrating on the areas above the 40′ contour, away from wetlands (except to cross), and away from the old cemetery. We were maybe using 250 acres. That is less than half the total parcel, and if you want to get technical, a trail 2 feet wide and 8.25 miles long only impacts 0.3% of the total parcel. If they log the site, that’s a huge impact, close to 50% that would take years and dollars to recover from. Another concern was wildlife impacts. I’m not sure what that means. Are we going to be scaring deer and rabbits? Any more than hunters do? I can’t recall harming any creatures while riding, except maybe a snake, and they are Satan’s minions, so that’s ok.
As far as monopolizing the site, yeah, maybe. We were given one parcel to see if off road biking would work out. We weren’t permitted to use any other parcels as they were already spoken for. Starting small is fine, and if enough people use the trail and it’s maintained well, we can expand from there. That’s great. But we need something that will draw people. A 4-6 mile trail isn’t worth driving 45 minutes for. Ten miles would be ideal but 8.25 miles is very doable and long enough to make people curious. A short trail would get worn out quicker. And we’re not the only one’s using the trail, though it would be a biking trail. Hunters will be on it, hikers and runners , too.
I think the problem is perception. They are envisioning a wide, flat and smooth corridor. We are looking at fast, tight singletrack. They see the whole forest populated with bikers. We see it being semi-multiuse, ridden a bunch but not abused. I was told this was a good opportunity to educate them on what we’re about. I think that’s my next step.