Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Recap: Empire Mine Workshop

Saturday's Empire Mine trail workshop was very positive and super exciting; generally speaking, State Parks has some great plans for new trail and restored trails in the Osborne Hill area of the park.

Starting as early as March, State Parks will begin construction on new sections of trails. Pending input from the community, they will generally use the same names, but the trails in this area will be very different. The net mileage of trails here will increase a bit, but most exciting is that much of the new trails will be comprised of singletrack.

State Parks plans to re-work the super fun user-built trail that follows the fence line along Osborne Hill Road to be mountain bike-specific. This means it will be optimized for mountain bikers, with rock armoring and fun up-and-down sections.

The existing Powerline, Osborn Hill and other trails will be complete removed and replaced with singletrack. There will be a net loss of fireroads in this whole area of the park, which will be replaced by singletrack on a 48" bench cut, which of course will narrow to an ideal width within a few years

The two parts of the proposal that I am not happy with are the sections of hiker-only trails and the proposal to remove some user built trails. The hiker only built trails idea was widely denounced by attendees (equestrians, cyclists and even some hikers) and I believe that State Parks got the message that this is lousy idea that would deprive many of us of trail access. As for the user built trails, I believe that some of these are sustainable trails that should be adopted in the system as-is or with some modifications.

These plans are in draft form and State Parks want your input ASAP. Note that this project is fully funded. This means that whatever final plans are agreed upon will move forward very soon. This is why it is important to comment on this projects within the week.

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