ADVOCACY ALERT: Public comment in support of mountain biking in Ozark National Scenic Riverways needed; Public meetings

Missouri's Ozark National Scenic Riverways is currently preparing a road and trail study that will, for the first time on the Scenic Riverways' history, allow mountain biking within the areas' boundaries.

This is a historic opportunity to create a major mountain biking resource in one of the most scenic areas of Missouri--and Missouri's closest equivalent to a National Park.

The Ozark National Scenic Riverways includes parts of the Current and Jack's For
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.

Public meetings Oct 2015 or leave your comments online

You can find out more about the ONSR's request for public comments, and leave your comments, on the ONSR web site here.

Open house meetings will be 5-8 p.m. each evening. This will be the time to find out about the ONSR, learn about proposals for roads and trails, share your ideas, and offer suggestions.

  • Monday, October 26
    Eminence High School New Gym
    505 South Sixth Street, Eminence, MO 65466
  • Tuesday, October 27
    Van Buren Youth & Community Center
    Intersection of Business 60 & D Highway, Van Buren, MO 63965
  • Wednesday, October 28
    Salem City Hall Auditorium
    202 North Washington, Salem, MO 65560
  • Thursday, October 29
    Holiday Inn St. Louis SW - Route 66
    10709 Watson Road, Sunset Hills, MO 63127

Or leave your comments on the ONSR web site here.

Suggested comments

This is a major opportunity to add mountain biking, hiking, and equestrian access in an area that has not traditionally had such access, and provide more well-rounded natural and recreational opportunities to visitors to the ONSR area.  These new recreational and scenic opportunities have the potential to combine with current recreational and scenic opportunities to create a truly work class national park experience and to give a significant boost to tourism in the region.

The plan creates the opportunity to do all this in an environmentally sensitive manner, in a way that heightens and creates appropriate access to the the scenic and natural beauty of the area.

  • We encourage the development of a major, world-class hiking and mountain biking trail network in ONSR and interconnected with surrounding natural areas
  • We also support development of equestrian trails in the area
    Touring by mountain bike
    Touring by mountain bike is an exciting new potential use of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways--the nation's first national park area to protect a river system

  • For practical reasons, mountain biking and equestrian uses of trails are often incompatible.  In working to reduce conflict between different trail user groups, we encourage ONSR to:
    • Follow national best practices in developing trail networks for use by mountain bikers, equestrians, and hikers; particularly in design of trail networks to avoid conflicts between different users.
    • Develop of separate trail networks for equestrian and mountain biking use wherever needed--particularly on trails that receive or may receive significant use.
  • Missouri has a strong existing mountain biking community and ONSR has a significant opportunity to work with that community to develop the recreational, scenic, environmental, and tourism potential of ONSR in cooperation with that community. In developing the mountain biking trail system and working out multi-use issues, work closely with national and local mountain biking groups with extensive experience in developing and maintaining mountain bike trail systems and in working to deal with conflicts among user groups.
  • Study several successful mountain biking trail systems across Missouri in similar natural areas to create a blueprint for success in ONSR, including:
    • Truman Lake Mountain Bike Park in Warsaw
    • Two Rivers Mountain Bike Park in Highlandville
    • Landahl Park in Blue Springs
    • Blue River Parkway Trails
    • Swope Park Trails
    • Berryman Trail in the Mark Trail National Forest
    • Council Bluff Recreation Area
    • Many state parks and state recreation areas, including Crowder State Park, Castlewood State Park, Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, and Poosey Conservation Area
    • (List your favorite mountain biking areas that may be a good model for what ONSR's mountain biking opportunities could look like.)
  • Create mountain biking trails and segments of varying difficulty, catering to a variety of users and ability levels, a variety of lengths, and a variety of use types--occasional use, day use, multi-day visitors, extended tours, mountain bike touring/camping, etc.
  • Mountain biking opportunities on singletrack trail and on unpaved roads should be thoroughly explored. In addition to singletrack opportunities a "gravel network" of mountain bikable roads and trails in the area--perhaps including roads inside and outside the boundaries of ONSR--would be of major interest.
    Gravel riding
    Gravel riding

  • Opportunities to create connected networks of trails with neighboring natural areas and adjoining trail systems should be fully explored.
  • Opportunities to create and connect major regional and statewide trail systems should be thoroughly explored for hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails.
  • On-road bicycling is an important feature of many national parks and offers an untapped opportunity in the area of ONSR. The nationally recognized TransAmerica Trail/U.S. National Bicycle Route 76 passes through ONSR and gives access to many of the scenic highlights of the region.  ONSR should adopt a position working to maximize on-road bicycling opportunities in the region, work with agencies who own roads where on-road cycling can occur to improve conditions for bicycling and create new opportunities, and identify and promote existing and potential new on-road bicycling routes and tours within the ONRS region.
  • We support a through mountain biking route on and along the Ozark Trail. The Ozark Trail section within ONSR is one of the major remaining mountain biking gaps in the Ozark Trail. The plan should create a route through the ONSR and adjoining lands to plug this gap in the Ozark Trail mountain biking system.  Creating a mountain biking connection through the ONSR area to connect the Ozark Trail for mountain biking use is a project of regional, statewide, and national significance.
  • We believe that developing a major regional tourism industry can be developed in this region, featuring multi-day mountain biking touring expeditions--similar to mountain bike adventure touring available in other states with major interconnected mountaing bike trail systems. The Ozark Trail mountain biking network could and should be features on lists of top mountain bike touring opportunities like this one.

    Mountain biking tourism, if implemented in a way similar to other states, would be an ideal complement to float trips and other tourism opportunities currently available in ONSR. Mountain biking expeditions would help visitors stay longer, draw visitors from longer distances, drawing far more out of state and international visitors, and provide a positive impact to the local economy.  Mountain bike tourism visitors are high quality visitors who respect the land, the environment, and the communities they visit.  This a type of tourism that the ONSR communities want to foster and encourage, because it is good for the communities and good for the future of ONSR.

Leave your comments about the ONSR's roads and trail access plan on the ONSR web site here.

ONSR and the Ozark Trail--can a major through-mountain biking trail be created?

One of our goals as the statewide bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization is the creation of long-range, well planned, interconnected trails systems for all types of trail users in Missouri.

This includes the development of regional, cross-state, and national mountain bike and hiking trail systems.

The major opportunity to create a continous mountain biking corridor of national significance in Missouri is the Ozark Trail.

Missouri's Ozark Trail consists of over 390 miles of trail, mostly linked together, and many more miles in the works. Unfortunately, several key sections of the trail are closed to mountain biking use.  Thus, multi-day mountain bike touring trips are tantalizingly close to possible on today's trail--but not quite there.

For this reason, it is our goal to see a creation of a continuous, through mountain bike route on and/or along the entire length of the Ozark Trail

Right now, restrictions on bicycle access by certain land managers along the Ozark Trail--like the Scenic Riverways--has made this difficult or impossible. 

ONSR's new plan to allow mountain biking in the lands of the Scenic Riverways, which carries an important segment of the Ozark Trail, opens the possibility of removing one of the most significant bottlenecks to this effort.

But, the devil is in the details--what areas will ONSR open to mountain biking?  How connected with the mountain biking networks be?  Will ONSR consider the importance of regional and statewide mountain biking trail connections as it develops its plan?

Mountain bike access on the Ozark Trail

Right now, the 390-mile Ozark Trail has just three sections that don't allow mountain biking:

A significant portion of the Current River segment runs through the National Scenic Riverways area, but the remainder of the segment (more than half) is on other land.  So it is unclear whether changes to the ONSR policy could create mountain bike access to the entire Current River segment, or only a portion of it.  Nevertheless, we should ask ONSR to consider these larger ramifications and to work to create these trails connections through ONSR and on adjoining land to create a seamless trail experience for users.

It may not be possible to open up the currently used Ozark Trail segment through ONSR for bicycle use.  But ONSR should carefully examine all options and possible routes that may allow for a mountain biking connection through the ONSR area to complete and connect the Ozark Trail mountain biking segments.

If the Ozark Trail Current River segment--or another parallel route--where to be opened opened up for mountain biking, it connects with adjacent Between the Rivers (29 miles) and Eleven Point (29 miles) segments to make an 88-mile connected mountain bike trail through the region.

This is is a mountain biking connection of regional, statewide, and even national signficance, if ONSR can make the connection a reality.

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