Salida Mountain Trails has been working hard over the last few years to get over 12 new miles of singletrack in the Methodist Mountain and Arkansas Hills Trail Systems approved for construction by the Bureau of Land Management. The proposal has been making its way through the Bureau of Land Management’s approval process. In August, the BLM released three possible alternatives.
We urge you to send a comment to the BLM in support of Alternative 1. Below you’ll find an explanation of the Alternatives and the benefits that Alternative 1 would provide for our trail system.
Alternative 1 would approve all of the trails requested by SMT. This would add connectors and loops on both Methodist Mountain and the Arkansas Hills. It would also add a flow trail and a new trail east of Castle Gardens. To protect wildlife, the trails above the power lines on Methodist Mountain would be closed in winter.
This alternative will turn Methodist Mountain into a stacked loop system allowing for rides and hikes of different lengths, create loops and connections between existing trails, and provide infinitely more variety than the current linear Little Rainbow. This is one of the most heavily used areas in the system and needs full expansion.
Keeping the flow trail, Upper Sole Train, in the alternative will provide a vital link to the Guts trail located on USFS land. The Forest Service is currently looking to legitimize Guts, but this is dependent on approval of Upper Sole Train. Without Upper Sole Train, the USFS will close Guts for good.
The upper portion of the Spartan Trail is at risk for removal in Alternative 2 (see below). Keeping it will create a nice loop intended as a skill building area, and will provide connectivity to the Double Rainbow, which we hope some day to connect to the western portion of the Rainbow trail.
The Castle Rim View trail will open an area east of Castle Gardens where a BLM road already exists. It will provide a great intermediate loop as a stand alone or addition to the Little Rainbow, as well as linking to Sole Train, which will be a flow trail much like Burn Pile.
Alternative 2 would approve many of the requested trails but rather than a seasonal closure to protect wildlife, it would remove the trails above the power lines and east of Castle Gardens. This alternative assumes that trail users can’t be depended on to respect the seasonal closure. If this alternative is selected, we would lose out on Upper Sole Train (and consequently, Guts), the upper leg of the Spartan Loop, and the Castle Rim trail.
Alternative 3 would reject the request in its entirety.
While over 300 trail supporters commented in favor of SMT’s proposal when it first went before the BLM, it is important to once again contact the Bureau to indicate your support for Alternative 1, since the comment period has been extended.
It is important for you to be specific with your comments. In addition to saying that you prefer Alternative 1, please say why. Tell the BLM that as responsible citizens you respect the needs of wildlife and will observe the seasonal closure. Tell them you want the connectivity that the upper trails will provide and the opportunity to see Guts added on USFS land. Tell them that there is sufficient public land abutting Salida that the trails will not impact those folks who would prefer to walk off trail. Thousands of acres will still be untouched.
As announced in the September 20th Mountain Mail, the BLM has decided to extend the comment period on the Alternatives offered under the recent Environment Assessment until October 3rd. Please don't wait until the last minute. Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org (don’t forget the underscore) or call Kalem Lenard at the BLM at (719) 269-8538.
The BLM will once again look over public input and should make a final decision shortly. Please stay the course and tell the BLM your opinion. It counts!
To see the full Environment Assessment and maps, click here.
To learn more about this proposal, other SMT projects that are in the works, and ways that you can get involved, be sure to join us tonight, September 28 (2016), for our Member Update Meeting/Party at the Boathouse Cantina from 6-7PM (use the F Street entrance).