Delta Area Mountain Bikers (DAMB), a local trail advocacy group, announces progress in its efforts to build new recreational trails in the Gunnison Gorge Natural Conservation Area east of Delta and south of Austin.
DAMB, as a chapter of COPMOBA (Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Association) sees trail development as serving both recreation for Delta County residents and as an economic booster for the local and regional economy. According to COPMOBA board representative Sven Edstrom of Redlands Mesa, the progress means volunteer work will be needed by local residents. "BLM has given us the go-ahead to propose new trail routes in the Gunnison Gorge NCA. These proposals will be evaluated by the BLM in their travel management plan, which we hope to have started this summer."
According to a statement from BLM, "Congress established the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA) in 1999 to protect and conserve, among other values, opportunities for recreation. The trails in the NCA are an important part of the recreational opportunities ... The BLM has about 100 miles of single-track trails within the NCA that are open to mountain bikers including the Sidewinder trail completed in 2011. This route is an expert-level trail for mountain bikes and motorcycles and moderately difficult for hikers and equestrians. It attracts users from around the nation, and is considered one of the premier trails in the area.
The BLM contracted with the company that designed Sidewinder to produce a conceptual trail system for the Smith Mountain area adjacent to the northern end of Sidewinder. This includes designs for beginner and intermediate-level trails to complement the more difficult and challenging trails in the NCA. Therefore, this conceptual design provides a rough outline for the expansion of this trail system.
"The BLM is tasked with management of public lands where resource uses are weighed in light of all management responsibilities. In order to move forward with the expansion, first the BLM must conduct a comprehensive analysis of all the designated routes in the Gunnison Gorge NCA.This allows resource specialists to have a baseline against which to analyze anticipated impacts from any proposed trail development. Throughout this process, BLM looks forward to engaging and working with the public and our partners in our local communities including the Delta chapter of COPMOBA," said BLM planner Edd Franz.
To become involved in DAMB's efforts for new trails, follow the group on Facebook, at DAMBikers.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, the Delta County Board of Commissioners called a special meeting to consider the board's response to the Bureau of Land Management's preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) concerning the lease parcels proposed for the December BLM sale.
Several people from the North Fork were present to provide input.