Your feedback needed! New mountain bike routes in Missouri's Ozark National Scenic Riverways could be hub of massive 280 mile mountain bike network

A new trails plan for Missouri's Ozark National Scenic Riverways has the potential to create a massive 280 mile mountain biking system.  But your feedback is needed to help build support for these important new trail links.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways - Missouri's only national park area with the potential to allow extensive mountain biking and hiking trails - has extended the public comment period on its roads and trails plan until January 15th, 2018. 

Ozark National Scenic Riverways
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways includes parts of the Current and Jack's Fork Rivers, in south-central Missouri near Eminence. The area has the potential to host an excellent mountain biking trail system.

The new roads and trails plan proposes, for the first time in ONSR history, to allow mountain biking on some of the trails in ONSR.

If ONSR allows it, these new mountain bikeable trails will link up mountain bikeable areas of the Ozark Trail creating a vast, challenging, beautiful, and nationally significant mountain bike trail network in southeast Missouri with over 280 miles of interconnected mountain biking trails and routes.

The currently proposed trail alternatives for ONSR include extensive hiking and equestrian trail opportunities--but only very, very limited mountain biking opportunities.  So to encourage ONSR to include more extensive mountain biking opportunities, and to maximise the potential regional mountain biking connections, we really need a landslide of support for mountain biking in ONSR.

Your comments in support needed - to help create a nationally significant mountain biking network in Missouri

Please take five minutes to send your feedback on mountain biking in ONSR, and make these points:

  • You support expanding hiking and, particularly, mountain biking opportunities within ONSR.
     
  • You support connecting trails and roads where mountain biking is allowed in the park to nearby roads and trails, particularly the Ozark Trail. ONSR should not be looking just at mountain biking trails within the park, but at the entire regional mountain biking system, including mountain bikeable segements of the Ozark Trail and gravel and low-traffic roads in the area.  Specifically:
    • It is absolutely vital that ONSR allow the key mountain bike trail connection to be made that will connect northern and southern sections of the Ozark Trail, allowing creation of a nationally significant 280+ mile mountain biking network in the area.
       
    • Additionally, ONSR should allow a mountain bike trail connection between the Big Spring area and the "Between the Rivers" section of the Ozark Trail--creating an instant 70+ mile mountain biking network.
       
  • Of the three alternatives, Alternative C looks generally best, but (as noted in the two points above) mountain biking access and connectivity should be increased significantly even beyond that suggested in Alternative C.
     
  • Access and mileage by different trail user groups--hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians--should be in approximate proportion to number of potential users.  By this measure, mountain bike access to the park is vastly underrepresented. In all three Alternatives, mountain bike trail mileage is vastly lower then mileage for hiking trails and equestrian trails. Mountain biking is an extremely fast growing sport across the U.S. and in Missouri. Surveys show that there more mountain bike users in Missouri and in the U.S. than equestrians.  For example, mountain bike trail access should be more on par with, or even exceed, equestrian trail mileage.
     
  • Every existing and proposed hiking and equestrian trail should be evaluated for mountain biking use as well.  Only when there are specific reasons to disallow mountain biking use (i.e., soil conditions that do not allow for mountain bike travel, or sections with usage high enough to create significant user conflicts) should mountain biking be disallowed from a particular trail.
     
  • Biking should be considered from a recreational trails perspective, but also a transportation perspective for creating access to the park.  All sections of ONSR should be accessible by bicycle--at least on par with motor vehicle access.  This access can be a combination of single-track trail, internal ONSR roads, and county and other low-traffic roads in the region. Mountain bike access to various areas and attractions of ONSR, and between campgrounds and recreational areas, is important because it helps creates alternatives to motor vehicle travel between those destinations.
     
  • Of course, all trails and roads should be built with an eye to sustainability, respect for the environment, and to enhance and never detract from the natural beauty of the area.
     
  • The mountain biking community is supportive of our natural parks and respectful of scenic and natural areas.
     
  • Mountain biking opportunities will help ONSR be attractive to new demographics and will complement other activities on the river and trails. Significant mountain biking opportunities will help bring visitors to ONSR and to the region during seasons when river rafting and float trips diminish, making ONSR more of a year-around destination and helping support a sustainable local economy.

Leave your comments for the National Park Service here through January 15, 2018.

 

ONSR Public Comment Press Release

Ozark National Scenic Riverways Announces Extension of the Public Comment Period for the Roads and Trails Plan Preliminary Alternatives

VAN BUREN, MO: Ozark National Scenic Riverways Superintendent Larry Johnson announces today that the public comment period for the Preliminary Alternatives for the Roads and Trails Management Plan will be extended through January 15, 2018.  This one-month extension of the comment period will allow additional opportunity for the public to review and provide comment during the holiday season.  The Preliminary Alternatives may be reviewed online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/OZAR_RTplan.  Comments may be submitted at this website through January 15. 

The Preliminary Alternatives include detailed maps illustrating a No-Action Alternative and two Action Alternatives. A Preliminary Alternatives Newsletter accompanies the maps and provides a description of each alternative.  The No-Action Alternative reflects a continuation of the current management practices within the Riverways, as established in the 2015 General Management Plan.  The two Action Alternatives were developed from public and stakeholder feedback, as well as National Park Service staff input.  The Action Alternatives represent alternative approaches to roads and trails management throughout the Riverways and represent the diversity of suggestions received during the public scoping process. 

Hard copies of the maps are available for review at the public libraries in several local communities, including: Van Buren, Eminence, Winona, Mountain View, Summersville, Salem, Ellington, Ellsinore, Grandin, Doniphan, Poplar Bluff and Rolla.  Maps will also be available for review at park headquarters in Van Buren, located at 404 Watercress Drive, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The comments will be analyzed to determine possible changes and help inform the selection of the National Park Service's preferred alternative.  The preferred alternative will be presented in the Draft Roads and Trails Management Plan and Environmental Assessment, which is expected to be released for public review and comment in approximately 18 months.

The public is encouraged to provide comments online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/OZAR_RTplan. Comments will also be accepted through the mail to:

Superintendent
Ozark National Scenic Riverways
P. O. Box 490
Van Buren, Missouri  63965
As always, we look forward to hearing from the public and encourage all to visit the park's website at www.nps.gov/ozar or our Facebook page for further updates.  For more information, please contact Dena Matteson at (573) 323-4814 or dena_matteson@nps.gov. 

Ozark National Scenic Riverways preserves the free-flowing Current and Jacks Fork Rivers, the surrounding resources, and the unique cultural heritage of the Ozark people.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 417 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at: www.nps.gov, on Facebook: www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitter: www.twitter.com/natlparkservice, and YouTube: www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.

 

Leave your comments for the National Park Service here through January 15, 2018.

 

Previously on MoBikeFed.org:

 

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