Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bikers, hikers reach deal on Bob Marshall expansion and access

Helenair.com - Full Article

ROB CHANEY rchaney@missoulian.com
December 20 2016

MISSOULA -- Mountain bikers and wilderness advocates have forged an agreement that could create a new riding area on the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness while advancing an 80,000-acre expansion of nonmechanized public land.

The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project and International Mountain Bike Association committed to supporting each other’s wishes on what could become a stand-alone wilderness bill going before Congress next year. The deal modifies a wilderness proposal first introduced as part of Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act in 2009.

It extends the southwestern edge of the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat wildernesses from the mountain ridgelines into the lower drainages where much of the area’s wildlife habitat and travel corridors exist.

“This compromise was more difficult than anything I remember,” said Lee Bowman, a BCSP steering committee member with the Montana Wilderness Association. “What really impressed me was how respectful the mountain bikers were of the horsemen’s issues. The horsemen weren’t in favor of this, but eventually they decided it was better for all. Nobody got everything they wanted. Everyone had to give up something.”

The 3,000-acre proposed mountain-biking recreation area extends along the Spread Creek drainage north of Ovando in a recommended wilderness area of the Lolo National Forest. Because the whole area remains in a management gray area regarding mechanized use, some mountain bikers had begun to chart routes along trails traditionally used by backcountry horse packers...

Read more here:

Monday, December 19, 2016

Celebrating 25 years of the Recreational Trails Program

Equestrian Volunteers working on the Dolan Springs Trail System, Arizona


December 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the law that created the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), one of the most important sources of funding for trail projects. Through all the years of competition for Federal dollars, the program has been continued helping States, volunteer groups, and project sponsors to improve our nationwide system of trails.

Since 1991, the RTP has provided more than $1 billion in Federal funding and has become the foundation for state trail programs across the country. It leverages hundreds of millions of dollars of additional support from other sources for trails, encourages productive cooperation among trail users, and facilitates healthy outdoor recreation and economic activity in countless communities.

RTP applies the “user-pay/user-benefit” philosophy of the Highway Trust Fund, returning federal tax on fuel used for nonhighway recreation to the states for trail projects. Program implementation is consistent in practice with other expenditures from the Highway Trust Fund. Although the gas tax supporting the Fund is paid primarily by gas-using vehicles, resources are shared with other users of recreational trails to develop a balanced system.

Project categories eligible for funding are many and varied, giving states the flexibility they need to administer state trail programs. State administrative and educational program costs are capped at 7% and 5% respectively. States are encouraged to work with qualified youth conservation or service corps.

Eligible types of projects include:

- maintenance and restoration of existing recreational trails;

-development and rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities and trail linkages for recreational trails;

- purchase and lease of recreational trail construction and maintenance equipment;

- construction of new recreational trails (with specific requirements when federal land is involved);

- acquisition of easements and fee simple title for recreational trail corridors;

- and assessment of trail conditions.

Thirty percent of funds are to be spent for uses relating to motorized recreation; 30% are to be spent for uses relating to nonmotorized recreation. In addition, 40% are to be used for projects that facilitate diverse recreational trail use within a recreational trail corridor, trailside or trailhead.

After 25 years, RTP funding has grown to represent a larger portion of the total fuel taxes paid by nonhighway recreationists, although it is conservatively estimated that the RTP receives less than one-third of the total taxes paid annually by nonhighway recreationists. During Fiscal Year 2009, states received slightly more than $84 million in RTP funds, the same annual maximum approved under current federal funding authorization.

The Recreational Trails Program was created by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), reauthorized in 1998 as part of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) and again in 2005 through the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).

The RTP was also included in the 2012 transportation-reauthorization bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). Most recently, the RTP was reauthorized as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which covers Fiscal Years 2016 through 2020 and was signed by the President on December 5, 2015.

As was the case under MAP-21, under the FAST Act, funds are to be allocated to the states in the same amounts and according to the same allocations that were in place in Fiscal Year 2009, the last year of SAFETEA-LU. At that time, the formula apportioned half of all funding to the states equally and the remaining 50% was apportioned among eligible states based upon nonhighway recreational fuel use in each of those states during the preceding year. There have been no adjustments to those allocations since 2009.

Each year the Coalition for Recreational Trails, a federation of national and regional trail-related organizations, sponsors an awards program to recognize outstanding trail projects funded by the RTP. The awards are presented in Washington, DC as part of the Coalition’s ongoing effort to build awareness and appreciation of this highly successful program.

For more information...

Visit the database of over 21,000 RTP-funded projects: www.recreationaltrailsinfo.org

See details of the RTP, including funding for each State: www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails

Annual awards from the Coalition for Recreational Trails: www.americantrails.org/awards/CRT-awards-by-state.html

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Opening Marin trail to bikes should include follow-up review

Marinij.com - Full Article

Marin IJ Editorial: Opening trail should include follow-up review

Marin’s open space trails have become a political battleground pitting bicycle access against safety.

Opening a half-mile trail to bike riders has turned the Alto Bowl open space between Mill Valley and Corte Madera into the latest battlefield.

The county Open Space District, which has made opening so-called “connector trails” to bikes a priority, has decided the Bob Middagh Trail fits that designation.

It provides a link for bike riders to reach fire roads and bike-approved trails on Mount Tamalpais.

The county is also planning to spend an estimated $25,000 on safety improvements along the half-mile trail.

But that has not quelled the criticism the plan is garnering from hikers and equestrians who see sharing the trail with bike riders to be a safety problem and “an intense use” that distracts from the enjoyment of using the tree-lined trail...

Read more here:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Oregon Governor Calls For A 'Plan B' For The Elliott State Forest

OPB.org - Full Article

by Cassandra Profita Follow OPB/EarthFix | Dec. 13, 2016

Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday sought an new alternative to selling a state forest in southwest Oregon to the only bidder to offer the full asking price.

At a meeting of the Oregon State Land Board, Brown called for setting aside $100 million in state bonding authority to allow for a new proposal on how the state should manage the Elliott State Forest going forward.

Brown thanked the sole bidder in the state’s effort to sell the Elliott State Forest before asking Oregon Department of State Lands Director Jim Paul to proceed with developing a direct offer of sale to Lone Rock Timber of Roseburg and the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Indians. The timber company and tribe submitted the only bid of $220.8 million for the 84,000-acre forest.

The governor also said she wants the land board to have another option on the table at its next meeting in February. She called on the public to work out a “Plan B” that would use up to $100 million in state bonds to buy the Elliott out of the Common School Fund and into a new ownership structure that could include state and private ownership.

“We are very clear that in Oregon our public lands are irreplaceable assets,” she said. “I absolutely believe we must protect the values we as Oregonians hold so dear...”

Read more here:

Sunday, December 11, 2016

West Region: Horse Trailheads by Robert Sydnor

For members of the West Region of the American Endurance Ride Conference, I have prepared 71+ trailhead reports that you can download (for free) and use for conditioning your endurance horse.

These reports are in stable Adobe Acrobat .pdf format, and are typically about 3 pages long. All 71 reports are posted on my GoogleGroups website. This is *not* a blog site, since none of us AERC riders have time for that. My scholarly reports contain *no* advertising (since I am a geologist, not a businessman). AERC Trails Manager Monica Chapman suggested that I post the hyperlink here on the AERC Facebook page. This has taken me six years to write these AERC trailhead reports, and new reports appear each month.

These trailheads are mostly in Placer County, El Dorado County, Sacramento County, Nevada County, with several other reports at Yosemite National Park, Point Reyes, and the San Francisco Bay region. Emphasis is on the highway location of the trailhead and the logistics at that particular trailhead (road maps, gates, fee for usage, horse water (or not), and so forth.

This is not about the trails themselves, and the emphasis is how to find the trailhead and what conditions to expect. So I use lots of photographs of the horse assembly area. That way, nobody is disappointed about what to expect. Recall the aphorism that "A picture is worth a thousand words".....and this is certainly true for us AERC riders. That way, with lots of photographs, there are no adverse surprises when you arrive with a loaded horse trailer.

I want to encourage other AERC Trail Masters and AERC Ride Mangers to also create their own Google Groups website with hundreds of horse trailheads described for other AERC Regions across America. That way we can promulgate more riders to become members of AERC and join us. We want to be inviting to regular trail riders. Case in point: There are 14,283 persons at this website, but only about one-quarter of them are dues-paying members of AERC. We want our AERC membership to grow and to show "value-added" for actual membership.

Here is my trailhead website for AERC West Region:
Horse Trails by Robert H. Sydnor, Geologist 

Respectfully submitted, Robert Hadley Sydnor, AERC Trail Master, AERC Statewide Horsetrails Advocate for California, and Geologist.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

BLM Gets Locals More Involved in Public Land Management

Ammoland.com - Full Article

Posted on December 5, 2016 by Ammoland Editor Joe Evans

WASHINGTON, D.C. -(Ammoland.com)- The Bureau of Land Management, which is responsible for overseeing 245 million acres of the nation’s public lands, has issued its final ‘Planning 2.0’ rule that will update how the agency plans for land management in the West.

The most significant change is the establishment of three additional public input periods early in the planning process to increase transparency and allow for more robust public involvement.

Sportsmen and women are hopeful that these changes will increase public satisfaction in the land-use planning process and eventual management of public lands...

Read more: http://www.ammoland.com/2016/12/blm-gets-locals-involved-public-land-management/#ixzz4SGgvOIZt

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Marin hikers, equestrians dismayed over bike access on Alto Bowl trail

Marinij.com - Full Article

By Adrian Rodriguez, Marin Independent Journal
POSTED: 12/05/16

A plan to allow mountain bikers access to a short trail through the Alto Bowl Open Space Preserve in Mill Valley is causing consternation among hikers and equestrians who fear it will become a destination for cyclists and unsafe for other users.

The Marin County Open Space District announced last week it was moving forward with a proposal by the Marin County Bicycle Coalition to open up the less than half-mile Bob Middagh Trail to cyclists. The approximately $25,000 project is part of the road and trails management plan that the parks district adopted in 2014.

Hikers and equestrians who oppose the project say mountain biking is “an intense use” that is not a good fit for the neighborhood trail, which has historically been a calm, peaceful link to Mount Tamalpais and preserves west of Horse Hill.

“We don’t want to have to be on high alert all the time,” said Amory Willis, president of the Alto Bowl Horseowners Association, who said hikers, bikers and horseback riders have happily coexisted on fire roads and other paths. “It’s great, but not here...”

Read more here:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New enthusiasm leads to partnership on city trails

Duluthnewstribune.com - Full Article

By Lisa Kaczke on Dec 4, 2016

New trails in Duluth's St. Louis River corridor are in various stages of completion, with some still in the planning stage and others ready for use by residents and tourists alike.

The city's rollout of the trails in the river corridor since last year has been met with enthusiasm from outdoor sports groups, who see it as an opportunity to boost new interest in their activity — whether it's cross-country skiing, riding horses, paddling or mountain biking.

The city of Duluth is partnering with groups, including COGGS (Cyclists of Gitchee Gummi Shores), the Duluth Area Horse Trail Alliance and the Duluth Cross-Country Ski Club, to invest more money than the city can provide on its own. Additionally, "really strong relationships with community partner organizations" are a major component of ensuring the completed trails are maintained long-term, said Andrew Slade, assistant manager of Duluth's Parks and Recreation Division...

Read more here:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Continental Divide Trail Coalition


Only about two hundred people a year attempt to hike the entire trail, taking about six months to complete it. Dave Odell thru-hiked in 1977 and in the same year Dan Torpey hiked from the NM/CO border to Mt Robson, Canada. German long-distance rider G√ľnter Wamser (on his way from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska), and Austrian Sonja Endlweber (who joined him for the rest of the journey from Mexico) managed to complete the tour with four Bureau of Land Management mustangs in three summers 2007–09.

"One of the largest conservation efforts in the history of the United States"

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) is much more than just a line on a map: it is a living museum of the American West, a place to reconnect with nature, and a unifying force bringing people of all walks of life together.

The Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC) is the 501 (c) (3) national non-profit working in partnership with the US Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management to protect, promote, and preserve the Continental Divide Trail. CDTC is a membership organization founded by a group of citizens passionate about the CDNST and working to building a strong community of supporters and Trail Enthusiasts who want to see the Trail completed and protected, not just for today’s users, but for future generations to come.

CDTC recognizes the Trail belongs to the American Public and that we have a responsibility to future generations to responsibly manage the Trail’s resources and to place those resources in a sacred trust that will ensure the Trail continues to nurture others the way it has nurtured us.

To that end, CDTC is committed to building a non-motorized backcountry Trail and protecting the Trail corridor along the Continental Divide.  CDTC serves the Trail through on the ground projects that ensure the Trail is maintained and its corridor is protected in perpetuity.   This is accomplished through advocacy efforts for the Trail with agencies, law makers and the general public; supporting, and inspiring volunteerism for Trail construction and maintenance; communicating the vision and direction of the Trail as a sustainable resource; educating users, volunteers and the general public on the appropriate route and uses of the Trail; cultivating strong partnerships; fundraising to help leverage resources and widen our impact to protect and preserve the CDT; and by encouraging and supporting land protection efforts to acquire the acquisition of the Corridor on private lands to solve some of the Trail’s most challenging connectivity issues.

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) was designated by Congress in 1978 as a unit of the National Trails System. The 3,100 mile CDNST traverses the magnificent Continental Divide between Mexico and Canada. It travels through 25 National Forests, 21 Wilderness areas, 3 National Parks, 1 National Monument, 8 BLM resource areas and through the states of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. The vision for the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is to create a primitive and challenging backcountry trail on or near the Continental Divide to provide people with the opportunity to experience the unique and incredibly scenic qualities of the area. For many of the same reasons National Parks are established, National Scenic Trails are created to conserve the nationally significant scenic, historic, natural and cultural qualities of the area. In addition, National Scenic Trails are designed for recreation and the enjoyment of these very special places.

For more information on the CDTC, see