IMBA Action Alert: Help Save Mountain Biking in Fruita, Colorado

For Immediate Release: 10-22-03
Contact: Dan Vardamis, dan@imba.com, 303-545-9011

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released a draft plan that will
govern recreational trail use in the north Fruita desert. The International
Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) is asking mountain bikers to comment on
the plan by November 7, 2003. Because Fruita is such a popular destination
for mountain bikers throughout the United States and around the world, we
encourage cyclists everywhere to comment.

The BLM proposes to create an area of approximately 4,000 acres as a
protected non-motorized zone. Within this zone lies the popular 18 Road trail
system. Mountain bicycling would be encouraged in this area. The BLM proposes
to improve camping, maps, signage, sanitation and staff monitoring of the
area. The BLM also proposes re-routing and improving trails that are not
sustainable. IMBA commends the BLM for these important management action
steps.

IMBA has a number of concerns with the plan, specifically its support for
expanded motorized use in the north Fruita desert. IMBA is very concerned
about the impacts motorized use will have on other visitors and the local
ecosystem.

"Fruita, Colorado, is one of the top destination mountain bicycling areas in
the world," said IMBA executive director Tim Blumenthal. "While IMBA supports
motorized use in appropriate areas, the current draft plan fails to provide a
balance among recreational needs. Without modification, this plan could make
Fruita a less appealing place for mountain bikers and other non-motorized
trail visitors."

What You Can Do

IMBA is encouraging all mountain bikers to write letters or email the BLM
before the Nov. 7 deadline. You can also attend a BLM public meeting in Grand
Junction, Colorado, on Oct. 23 to voice your concerns. Because this
management plan deals with federal land, everyone can submit comments, NOT
just Colorado residents.

Please include the following points in your comments to the BLM:

- Tell the BLM, in your own words, how increased motorized vehicle use would
affect the north Fruita desert visitor experience.

- Of the 76,000 total acres under consideration, the North Fruita Desert Plan
opens more than 90 percent to motorized use, leaving only 10 percent as a
designated non-motorized zone.

- The BLM estimates approximately 36,000 people recreate in the area per
year. Of these visitors, 25,000 are mountain bikers. The number of motorized
users is negligible. IMBA believes a new management plan should reflect
current and future desired use patterns, and designate more of the total area
as a non-motorized zone.

- The North Fruita Desert is a sensitive ecosystem with a variety of flora
and fauna, and is home to threatened species. It's also an area with a dense
network of trails. IMBA believes the environmental impacts of motorized
vehicles on this ecosystem will be significant. To limit this impact, more of
the total area should be designated as a non-motorized zone.

- Fruita, Colorado, is one of the most popular mountain bicycling destination
areas in the world. Mountain bike tourism has given a significant boost to
the economy of Fruita in the past decade. According to the Grand Junction
Visitor and Convention Bureau, the Fruita Fat Tire Festival alone pumps $1.5
million into the local economy annually. The continuing availability of
high-quality mountain biking will assure that those economic benefits
continue.

- The plan contains inconsistent language. Specifically, the plan contradicts
itself in regards to access to washes and drainages within the non-motorized
zone. IMBA believes all washes and drainages in the non-motorized zone should
be closed to motorized vehicles. Furthermore, the environmental impact of
motorized vehicles in washes and drainages, even in designated motorized
areas, needs further examination.

- The plan proposes construction of a designated motorized "sacrifice zone"
that allows cross-country travel. The Grand Junction area already has
motorized "sacrifice zones" and these have proven difficult to manage. IMBA
is concerned a new motorized "sacrifice zone" would prove detrimental to the
area's ecosystem and other recreational visitors. IMBA questions the need for
a new motorized "sacrifice zone," considering this resource already exists in
the Grand Valley.

- IMBA designated the Edge Loop an Epic Ride in 1999, a designation given to
select trails that offer a world class mountain biking experience. The North
Fruita Plan threatens the integrity of a section of this trail, known as
Lippan Wash. IMBA recommends that the non-motorized zone be expanded to
include all of Lippan Wash and the singletrack extending to Coal Gulch Road.
Of the three alternatives presented, IMBA recommends option one, which
separates motorized and non-motorized use to the greatest extent possible.

Letters: Letters must be submitted by November 7. Letters are the preferred
method of commenting as agencies often give more weight to letters than
emails. Send letters to:

Bureau of Land Management
Attn: James Cooper
Grand Junction Field Office
2815 H Rd
Grand Junction, CO 81506

Emails: Emails must be submitted by November 7. While not as effective as
letters, emails can also help make a difference. Send emails to:

james_cooper@co.blm.gov

Meeting location:

Thursday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m.
Grand Junction BLM office
2815 H Road
Grand Junction, Colorado

To read the North Fruita Desert Management Plan visit
http://www.co.blm.gov/gjra/NFD-PDFlinks.htm. For more information, email
IMBA's advocacy coordinator Dan Vardamis at dan@imba.com or IMBA's western
Colorado Rep Bill Harris at bharris@gwe.net.