Last day for public comment in support of mountain biking in Ozark Natl Scenic Riverways & 280-mile MO mountain bike trail; Joint letter of support

Today is the last day to submit your public comment in support of mountain biking in Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR)--Missouri's National Park--and in support of an amazing potential 280-mile Ozark Trail Mountain Bike Trail System that is only possible of a few key mountain bike trail connections are allowed through ONSR.

ONSR was created in the 1970s and has never allowed mountain biking on any trails within its boundaries.  So we are asking for a big change ONSR policy, and when the you speak up in support of this important change it really makes a difference.

Today as part of our work to support more mountain biking in ONSR and the creation of the 280-mile contiguous Ozark Trail Mountain Bike System, we are submitted a sign-on letter supported by numerous national, statewide, and local organizations and businesses.

The letter details the reasons these organizations and businesses support more access to mountain biking in ONSR and the creation of the 280-mile mountain biking system in the region.  We welcome organizations, groups, and businesses to sign the letter but we'll need your response by noon on January 15th.

Sign-on Letter in support of mountain biking in ONSR and the 280-mile Ozark Trail Mountain Bike Trail System

 

We are writing as a united group of organizations and businesses who support greater access for people who mountain bike within Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

 

We appreciate the opportunity to give feedback on the ONSR Road and Trails Plan. We appreciate the work by National Park Service staff to evaluate public input and suggest alternatives.

 

In regard to mountain bike access to trails at ONSR, we most prefer the mountain bike elements of Alternative C to either of the other two Alternatives.  

 

However, beyond Alternative C, we strongly urge ONSR to consider the following steps to allow a far greater degree of mountain bike access on ONSR trails, while respecting the history and environment of ONSR and promoting healthy shared use of trail resources with other user groups: 

    1. Allow as part of the Road and Trails Plan two key mountain bike trail connections within ONSR that will create a contiguous 280-mile regional Ozark Trail Mountain Bike Route and connect important ONSR destinations to this route (segments mapped below)
       
    2. Work with Missouri State Parks to evaluate the planned major trail system in the Current River State Park/Echo Bluff State Park/Round Spring/Bee Bluff areas for mountain bike use and make this new trail mountain bike accessible to the degree feasible.
       
    3. Generally, allow at least some mountain bike trail access, where possible, at every major destination or camping area within ONSR.
       
    4. Generally, evaluate all trails in ONSR for mountain bike access and disallow mountain bike access only on those trails where there is a specific, justifiable, and documented reason to prohibit mountain bike access.
       
    5. Generally, promote mountain bike use and nonmotorized tourism and travel both to and within ONSR as a viable transportation option; strongly consider a no-turn-away camping policy for bicycle tourists traveling the TransAmerica Trail through ONSR.
       
    6. Work with community organizations and bicycle groups to create and publicize regional maps of mountain bikeable trails in and around ONSR, including the mountain bike trail sections of the Ozark Trail outlined above.

    Alternative C allows mountain bike access on just 11% of ONSR trails, while a comprehensive study of similar Missouri trail systems shows that mountain bike access is allowed on a full 72% of trail mileage.

     

    This shows that there is considerably greater demand for mountain bike access than the ONSR Alternatives consider, and that other land managers of similar trails are able to allow far greater mountain bike access to trails while protecting their trails and the environment and avoiding unnecessary conflicts among trail user groups.

     

    Because mountain biking is new to ONSR, we are open to the idea of creating a framework that would allow for the gradual adoption of the steps outlined above and gradual expansion of mountain bike access to ONSR trails over time, with opportunity for data collection, community input, and modification (or even reduction) of proposed mountain bike access if insurmountable difficulties are encountered.  

     

    But we believe strongly that the mountain bike access outlined in Alternative C is very insufficient given the strong demand for mountain bike access throughout the Midwest, the amount of mountain bike trail access allowed by similar trail systems throughout Missouri, and benefits to allowing mountain bike trail access for ONSR, ONSR visitors, and surrounding communities.

     

    We believe that the Alternatives proposed have not considered with sufficient thoroughness the high demand for mountain biking in the region, the potential for mountain bike access to complement the other uses of ONSR, the potential of modern techniques for building, maintaining, and managing trails to allow far greater mountain bike access while maintaining the quality of the trails and the environment, the benefits of additional nonmotorized travel within ONSR and adjacent areas, the benefits to ONSR and to the public of allowed mountain bike access on par with that allowed in other similar trail systems in the area, and the significant positive economic benefits of creating major regional mountain biking opportunities on local communities and the local economy.

     

    And we believe that this additional mountain bike trail access can be created at ONSR while respecting the environment, ONSR’s history, and other ONSR user groups.

     

    Sincerely yours,

     

    David Wiens, Executive Director

    International Mountain Bicycling Association

     

    Bill Nesper, Executive Director

    League of American Bicyclists

     

    Alex Logemann, Director of State + Local Policy

    PeopleForBikes

     

    Tom Sauret, Executive Director

    Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association

     

    Josh Evans, President

    Missouri Off-Road Cyclists, Springfield

     

    Jared Shearer, Board Member

    EarthRiders Mountain Bike Club, Kansas City

     

    Matt Hayes, Board Member

    Gateway Off-Road Cyclists, St. Louis

     

    Braden Horst, President

    Joplin Trails Coalition

     

    Mike Weiss, Owner

    Big Shark Bicycle Company, St. Louis

     

    Christopher McNeese, President

    A&B Cycle, Springfield

     

    Matt Maher, President

    Prologue Sports, Independence, Missouri

     

    Steve Raper, President

    SpringBike Bicycle Club, Springfield

     

    Sarah Ashman General Manager

    Walt's Bicycle, Fitness, & Wilderness Co., Columbia

     

    Brett Shoffner, Owner

    Ecological Placemakers, LLC, Kansas City

     

    Brian McEntire, Admin

    Saddle Time, Farmington

     

    Tour of Kansas City

     

    Carl Birdsell, Treasurer

    St Joseph Bicycle Club

     

    Sunshine Bicycle Shop, Springfield

     

    Erik Riker, Owner

    Midwest Lawn and Garden, Blue Springs

     

    Trailpads LLC, Springfield

    Brent Hugh,Executive Director

    Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation

     

    Two Important Mountain Bike Trail Connections Needed in ONSR to Create 280-mile Seamless Regional Ozark Trail Mountain Bike System

    Potential 280-mile Ozark Trail Mountain Biking System - Overview

     

    The above map is a low-resolution thumbnail, the full sized zoomable map is available online at: http://goo.gl/SVeNiq

     

    Map Key:

    Green = Most important trail connections within ONSR where mountain  bike access is needed in order to create a complete, connected regional mountain bike trail system

    Purple = Trails where mountain biking is current allowed

    Light Blue = Existing gravel roads where mountain biking is allowed

    Red = Ozark Trail segments where where Mountain Biking is not currently allowed

    Dark Blue = Trails (other than the Ozark Trail) currently allowing hiking access but no mountain biking access

     

    Potential 280-mile Ozark Trail Mountain Biking System - Owls Bend/Rock Falls Segment (detail)
     

    Mountain bike access on the green segment is vital to connect the northern and southern segments of the Ozark Trail Mountain Bike Route.
     

    We are open to other alternatives to bridging this link, but are not aware of any other potential alternatives.

     

    Key:

    Green = Most important trail connections within ONSR where mountain  bike access is needed in order to create a complete, connected regional mountain bike trail system

    Blue = Existing gravel roads where mountain biking is allowed

    Red = Trails where where Mountain Biking is not currently allowed

     

    Potential 280-mile Ozark Trail Mountain Biking System - Big Spring Segment (detail)

     

    The proposed connection is between the Big Spring campground area and the Eleven Point Segment of the Ozark Trail. This gives campground users direct nonmotorized to a 58-mile segment of the Ozark Trail that is currently open to mountain biking.

     

    This will also be the direct connection for campground users to access the 280-mile Ozark Trail Mountain Bike System.

     

    Note that one possible mountain bike trail connection between the campground and the Ozark Trail is shown. We are very open to other alternatives for creating this important mountain bike trail connection.

     

    Key:

    Green = Most important trail connections within ONSR where mountain bike access is needed in order to create a complete, connected regional mountain bike trail system

    Purple = Ozark Trail segments where mountain biking is current allowed

    Dark Blue = Existing ONSR trails allowing hiking access but no mountain biking access

    Take action now

    Deadline for submitting public comments is midnight Mountain Standard Time, January 15th, 2018.

     

    Creating a world-class bicycle, pedestrian, and trails system in Missouri is one of the four major goals in MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri. As part of that Vision, we work to support all types of bicycling, walking, running, hiking, and trail use. Working on improved trails access in places that have never allowed bicycle access before, like ONSR, and working for the creating of major trail systems like the proposed Ozark Trail Mountain Bike System is one way we work to achieve that goal.

    Your ongoing membership and generous financial support help turn our goal into reality!

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