Tuesday, July 28, 2009

RCST Prez and Vice Prez Comments on Horse Event

In case folks don't open comments to posts; I wanted to be sure everyone saw the comments of the RCST Prez, Keith Whitcomb, and the Club's Vice Prez, Ricky Brown. These comments were in response to a sort of confrontation equestrian rider. As as an FYI, Keith is a graduate of IMBA's (International Mountain Biking Association) Trailbuilding school, so he just might know what he's talking about! Here the comments:

My name is Rick Brown. I'm the biker that came over to camp to talk to Jim Saturday eve.I'm not sure what you are imagining I said or did that was unsportsman like but I was anything but. I was respectful and simply voiced my concerns for damage to the trails due to soft trail conditions.As far as the trails, bikers built them for biking and hiking. We know that the trails cannot take horse traffic with out considerable damage over time. There's no room for discussion on this point. We've seen the results of horses on these trail before and it's unacceptable.When Jim ran this event last year I actaully helped mark the course and we had an understanding that he would not use singletrack bike trails. That was great. But now this year we were not involved and he used trails because DCNR gave him the go ahead. He should have had an alternate course laid out just in case of bad trail conditions so he could have used it and avoided the damage that was done today, especially after the heavy rains last night.If you spent years developing a trail system for a certain purpose and had anther user group come in and in a weekend of use do damage to those trails you wouldn't be happy.I was also back over there today, taking pictures of the results of the ride. Hopefully when DCNR comes in to inspect the trails tomorrow they will agree that horses should not be on the singletrack trails. Running the course on the trails after the rain we had the night before, after I voiced concerns for trail conditions, may actaully have been a mistake on Jim's part.Those trails can take horse traffic if conditions are good. Today conditions were not and if you were out there on the trail today you could see the results of it.I've posted pictures and sent e-mails to DCNR and Lykens Borough Watershed letting them know of our concerns.About half of the singletrack trails are on Lykens Borough property and due to previous horse damage to the trails they have gave us permission years ago to post all those trails off limits to horses. Hopefully DCNR will see things from the same perspective after inspecting the trails after this weekend.

Keith Whitcomb said...
Ok, here we go. My name is Keith Whitcomb and I'm one of the guys who laid out the Rattling Creek Trail System.First, I'll tell you that we took about 2 years just hiking the mountains with a topo map in hand just to figure out where to go and where not to go with the trails. We made meticulous notes of wet areas, steep slopes, etc. when we were looking at building a connector or new section of trail. Some of the trails already existed on DCNR property and the topo map so we opened them up because they were grown in at the time. We actually rerouted some sections, such as on Wolf Pond Trail. The old section of Wolf Pond Trail went through vernal ponds so we rerouted out of that wet area. Our plan was to open up existing stuff and then asess them later to see if we need to reroute, which we did.All of the new trail or connectors were laid out to minimize impact and/or trail maintenance. We used IMBA guidlines for this. Many of our club memebers have attended IMBA Trailbuilding Schools and are knowledgable on how and how not to build trails.So to see damage like this in one weekend is just very frustrating for me. I understand that this is public land but I don't think that this event was coordinated using a common sense approach. At the very least there should have been a contingency plan in case of soft trail conditions. The snowmobile trails or roads could have been used in lieu of the soft singletrack. Also, even in dry conditions the route should not have went up and down an approximately 20% grade into a stream bed. (Preserve Line Trail)That section of trail definately needs rerouted.
July 27, 2009 1:45 PM
Keith Whitcomb said...
I don't hate horses or equestrians. That's not the issue here, trail degredation is. Hikers and mountain bikers have an initmate relationship with the trail surface itself. What I'm trying to say is that the damage that has been done will not be felt or noticed by equestrians but it will be by hikers and bikers. So with that being said I hope you all understand that your impact will be noticed by other users, and eventually maybe to the point that those other user groups will no longer be able to use those trails.I, or our club is not looking for any recognition here, but the truth of the matter is if RCST didn't exist, most of that singetrack wouldn't exist. We have logged 3,000 to 4,000 volunteer hours to build that trail system. I spent many lonely days in those woods with my brushcutter. We have also done a lot of meticulous rock work to make impassable sections walkable and/or rideable. We had a fiord built across wolf run so we wouldn't rut the streambed. So much work, can some you see where I'm coming from?I'm not saying that bikes can't do damage either, that's why we rerouted some sections. A good comparison to this is secondary and rural back roads. Did any of you ever see a sign on a back road saying no vehicles over 10,000 pounds? That's because that road can't handle that kind of impact, especially if repeated over and over again.There are plenty of studies and data out there comparing the impacts of user groups. Horses are right up there with motorized users. Hikers being the least and bikes usually second in most cases.The issue isn't the people in the user group or even the horse itself, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE IMPACT AND HOW THAT IMPACT EFFECTS THE EXPERIENCE OF THE OTHER USER GROUPS.Rick tried to get Jim to see our point of view but I guess he didn't. He wasn't being "unsportmanlike" he was being "passionate" about the work we have done. All we're looking for here is for you to work with us and try to understand our point of view. We feel that there is no respect for what we have done in Weiser Forest.If there is mutual respect you will try to work with us and also put some sweat equity into this great trail system. We just feel that we shouldn't have keep repairing damage if we aren't the ones making these huge impacts. Like I said earlier, equestrians might not notice these impacts/changes to the trail, but someone on foot or bike will. I know GOD made the forest for all animals, again, that's not the issue. If this was the 1800's we wouldn't be having this conversation. But it's not the 1800's and this is public land, so in my opinion should be managed that way. It's funded by taxpayer dollars and VOLUNTEER sweat and equity. There are no simple solutions but I think we can find a way not to hate each other, but we also have to respect each other and each other's concerns.Keith Whitcomb, RCST
July 27, 2009 1:46 PM

1 comment:

Chili said...

Keith and Rick - your passion is showing. Kudos! Maybe DCNR will hire you two! Jill