A couple of blogs ago I wrote about the problems of renegade/bootleg trail building on public lands. It’s a growing problem and one that both the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are paying increasing attention to nationwide.
On the heels of that news comes the revelation that literally thousands of miles of singletrack trail on public lands in the west that have been open to mountain biking for years will soon be closed to riding.
A New York Times story of November 11 spells out how several National Forests are closing down trails to mountain biking for the simple reason that the trails in questions were never intended for it. They were created originally for hiking and horse travel and cannot withstand, so the land manager’s argument goes, the impact that modern mountain bikes cause.
The trail closures pose a critical problem for many small Rocky Mountain communities in particular that rely on having lots of singletrack riding to attract tourists and to bring people and money to local bike shop and bike tour operators.
Which brings us to the question could singletrack cutbacks happen here? The answer is no as most of the trails within out local networks were designed specifically for mountain biking with the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA) working closely with the USFS and BLM of design, construction and maintenance.
However, look for cutbacks in the amount of available singletrack in other National Forests within the State.
And look for a spike in illegal trail making all over the west as those who see their singletrack disappear start making more of their own.
It had to happen given the fact that too many flyfishermen are trying to fish the same places. Overcrowding has recently led to a few shouting matches, a few near fights and a situation that mars the whole flyfishing experience.
The recent state of near punchups on the lower Deschutes in particular stems from two factors: 1) the relentless hype about the record breaking steelhead run, and 2) the fact that so many flyfishermen want to catch an elusive steelhead.
Fueled by hype, there are time when sections of the Deschutes look like those images of elbow-to-elbow crowds along Alaskan rivers during the salmon runs.
Lines get tangled, people feel they’re getting ‘fished over” and tempers flare.
By way of a suggestion on how to avoid the crowds and the potential of getting into a dustup, avid Sisters flyfisher Ron Bonacker says, “if possible, head down to the lower Deschutes Tuesday through Thursday if you can. Few people on the river then.
Thanks to the hard work of a group of avid local hikers with GPS devices in hand, a trail has been mapped through the proposed Skyline Forest west of town. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the trail is now under snow. Come spring and the melt off, contact the Deschutes Land Trust for a copy of the trail map.