What is the Real Impact of Mountain Biking on the Land?

Do you ever stop to think about the impacts of mountain biking?  There are social aspects, economic impacts, impacts on the trail and surrounding land, and other impacts we may or not even be aware of.  We hear people make statements about mountain bikers “tearing up the trails”, and we hear others counter that their impact is “less than the average user”.  Without some sort of reference or measurement these are simply statements, and often made by referencing someone’s individual perceptions or an individual’s agenda.

While there is not an overwhelming body of peer reviewed information specific to trail impacts, there is quite a bit of information out there that is useful.  We have added a link for your reference which gathers a number of scientifically controlled studies, and test cases and adds interpretation to them in an attempt to help answer this very question.  It may not read like a best selling novel, but it does a good job of examining and compiling relevant information into a digestible form.  We submit this for your review, and hope you come away with a deeper understanding.

Environmental Impacts of Mountain Biking: Science Review and Best Practices

Thanks for taking the time.

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SMBC Elects Interim Board Positions, and Establishes Board Nominating Committee

On Friday June 15th the SMBC board members, with assistance from the Southwest Regional IMBA representative Patrick Kell, met and voted on our interim board positions.
The SMBC board positions are interim positions, are in effect until December 31st 2012, and are as follows:
– Interim President – Phil Kincheloe, Sedona resident and business owner
– Interim Secretary – Don Buffoni, Sedona resident
– Interim Treasurer – Zack Greenfield, VOC resident and Sedona business owner
As part of the election process, the SMBC board members voted on a Board Nominating Committee.  They are seeking SMBC members who are interested in becoming a candidate for a board position.  They will solicit potential candidates, perform due diligence, and submit qualified candidates to the existing SMBC board for ratification.  Then candidates are up for general election into board positions by the SMBC membership at large.  General elections are anticipated to be in late November to early December 2012.  The Board Nominating Committee members are as follows:
-Jim Monahan, Sedona resident, owner Bike N Bean bike shop in VOC
-Phil Kinchelow, Sedona resident and business owner
-Dave Cichan, Sedona resident, owner The Fat Tire bike shop in Uptown
The existing interim board positions will be augmented by one additional position, Vice President, for a total of four board positions once we transition to non-interim board members.  If you wish to submit yourself to be a candidate, you can e-mail Nominations@SedonaMTBClub.com, or contact any of the Board Nominating Committee members listed above.  Candidates must be members of the SMBC, residence of Sedona/VOC, and may not be an owner/employee of the local bicycle industry.  Candidates must submit their request to the Nominating Committee no later than October 15th, 2012.
To become a member of the SMBC you can click on the “join” button of the SMBC website where you will be directed to the SMBC/IMBA portal.  Minimum annual membership dues are $30, additional amounts are appreciated.   As a resident of the Sedona/VOC area, you can choose to have your membership contribution go to both organizations – SMBC and IMBA.  With one contribution you have a membership in both organizations now, made possible through our new partnership in the Chapter Program.

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SMBC completes IMBA integration

Today the SMBC completed it’s IMBA integration.  The club membership portal is now live and taking members.  You will see the links for both individual and family membership pages on the upper right side of our site.  Existing IMBA members in the Sedona area are now members of SMBC also.  Thanks for all your support through this creation process. You may log into your IMBA account and verify that you are set up with your local chapter now.

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Hangover Inspection Results

SMBC representative Zack Greenfield, VVCC board member Lars Romig and avid community mountain Biker Tomas Robison joined the RRRD staff Friday May 18th for the inspection of Hangover trail.  Hangover trail is one of Sedona’s mountain bike and hiking jewels and is held by both the community and visitors as a key attraction within the Sedona area scenic experience.  The Forest Service staff converged on the actual non-system trailhead from both sides of Mitten Ridge to ensure a clear understanding of access to and from the trail.  The land managers had watershed, soil and archeological specialist on this visit to contribute to the assessment and discussion of this trail.

Areas of concern discussed during the walk include:

    • The presence of Peregrine Falcons nesting in the area. No specific conclusions were made.
    • It was proposed that much of the area where Hangover is situated has been rated as unsuitable for trail construction.  The fact that this rating is applicable to a large portion of the existing Sedona trail network was attributed to Sedona’s location within an erosion corridor.  Selection and construction in Sedona is largely about picking the best options within many poor choices.  Large sections of Hangover are situated upon slick rock formations, including most of the areas with elevation changes.  This helped to address/mitigate many issues associated with its location.
    • Due to the overwhelming visitor demand for forest access in Sedona, the district Ranger Heather Provencio stated that, we “must choose” trails.  The idea that a holistic approach is taken as it relates to adoption of trails within and adjacent the Casner Canyon Research Natural Area was proposed.  This prompted a discussion about master planning sections of the Sedona trail system in such a way to allow adoption of “significant trails” as there relative importance fits into a larger trail management plan.
    • Damfino trail came under criticism for its’ poor construction in spots and proximity to the Oak Creek water shed.  Concerns were raised that the increased traffic on Hangover, which would result if it is adopted, is anticipated to increase awareness/traffic on this non-system trail.  The concern proposed is that this additional traffic could result in a negative impact on the areas traversed by Damfino.
    • All forest service employees were in agreement that adoption of any trail is likely to increase traffic/use to the area and trails adjacent to that adopted trail.  There was concern expressed about other trails adjacent Casner Canyon to include Damfino, Tomahawk, and others.  A discussion ensued contrasting the implied use of Forest Service budget to maintain a trail such as Hangover.  On one hand you have a trail that caters to an advanced/expert level mountain biker who may only represent a small amount of cyclist.  The positive is that usage would be lower, thus impacts and required maintenance should also be lower.  On the other hand the Forest Service wants to apply its limited budget and use of resources to the widest portion of public use.  Focusing on a trail which appeals to a small portion of said public is not ideal.  Multiple representatives of the MTB community made the following points during this discussion.
      1. Mountain bikers are only one user group of this trail.  While use of this trail may represent a smaller portion of the mountain bike community, its use falls well into general ability levels for hikers and other user groups.
      2. This trail was created to cater to a specific need for trails with challenging and technical aspects.  Removing this trail from the inventory creates the potential to incentivize illegal trail building and/or off trail travel in order to meet an unsatisfied need.  Realizing and understanding this need is a proactive way to ensure that it can be managed effectively instead of reactively.
  • It was proposed that private funding and community participation are potential ways to supply the required resources to manage and maintain this trail. Hangover is currently enjoyed by multiple user groups, and it provides a unique experience.  It is considered a destination ride for advanced level cyclists, and helps to distinguish Sedona from other mountain biking locations as one of the premier riding locations in the Western US.  We feel, given the benefits the city’s citizens and businesses receive as a part of this draw, it only makes sense to re-invest in it.

Overall there was good community and positive feeling while on the hike.  The conclusions were positive as it regards the trail and participants universally agreed it has huge value as a hiking or biking adventure.

The SMBC will continue to stay abreast of developments related to Hangover and the Forest Service potential adoption. We have also extended open invitation for any of the rangers to make comment on this visit to the trail and speak from their perspective; which we will happily publish here on the site.    Your support and membership is what makes it happen.  Get a hold of us and get involved!

It’s all about the trails,

SMBC

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SMBC gathers community feedback on Hangover Trail

On Sunday, May 13th a group of local mountain bikers met up with SMBC representatives to take a look at a user-created MTB trail known as Hangover Trail.  The SMBC put out a request for community feedback, and created several avenues for the general MTB community to provide input in anticipation of the USFS walk of this trail on Friday, May 18th.  Representatives from the SMBC will attend the USFS walk on behalf of membership who are unable to participate due to the timing conflicting with the traditional work day for your average person.

The SMBC continues to request input via several methods to include; online comments via MTBR, submission of comments via our e-mail and comments open on the SMBC website, as well as the trail visit on May 13th.  While we are still gathering input, a few things have become clear.  There is overwhelming support within the MTB community to both adopt the trail into the FS trail system and to simultaneously preserve the advanced technical nature of the trail.  We are hearing from the MTB community that these things are two sides of the same coin, both desirable, neither at the exclusion of the other.
The well built construction of Hangover Trail is in evidence as it has been in existence for close to a decade without a lot of maintenance along the way.  A few areas were noted with small issues, but as compared to many other trails, its durability should be noted.  Trails such as Hangover are considered by many in the local MTB community to be crown jewels within the system.  This is the type of trails that serves to distinguish Sedona as a riding destination for the advanced rider, and helps us to surpass other locations throughout the US with a distinctive experience.  While visiting the trail on Sunday, we ran into visiting mountain bikers who’s had travelled to Sedona specifically to ride Hangover.  They indicated that it was billed as the “must ride” experience by others who have been here, and “not to be missed”.  When we asked if Hangover had lived up to its description, and the answer was an unqualified “yes”.  Their comments, while positive, were not as strong about other trails they had ridden during their multiple day visit to Sedona.
We ask that you continue to send us feedback, so that we can best represent the needs of our local MTB community.  Comments are open on this post

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