Officials at Big Bend National Park in Texas want to know what you think of a plan to develop a multi-use trail backcountry trail, one whose primary mission would be to accommodate mountain bikers.
Already the International Mountain Bicycling Association is trying to rally its troops, sending out an "action alert" that contains a letter supporters can copy and send off to Big Bend officials who are working on an environmental assessment (EA) that will examine the project.
While the National Park Service is taking public comments through September 20 to see what the EA should consider, this project seems greased. After all, creating a mountain bike trail in Big Bend a year ago was "certified" as a Centennial Initiative project even though the Park Service was still in the middle of a five-year study examining the propriety of mountain bike trails in the National Park System beyond current practices, which limit mountain bike use to existing paved and unpaved roads in the parks.
And back in June the director of the National Park Service, Mary Bomar, attended IMBA's World Summit and suggested that there be a special "parks edition" mountain bike.
The proposed trail in Big Bend would start near the visitor center at Panther Junction and run roughly 5 miles in a loop, crossing the Chihuahuan desert and wrapping Lone Mountain while providing sweeping views of the Chisos Mountains, the southern-most mountain range in the country. The trail would be roughly 5 feet wide because of the need to accommodate mountain bikes. It would not cross into recommended wilderness in the park.
Big Bend officials have scheduled some public meetings to discuss this project. They are set for September 10 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Brewster County Community Center in Study Butte, Texas, and September 11 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Sul Ross State University - Espino Conference Center.
To provide comments and identify issues for consideration, visit the National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website during the comment period. Or, you can submit written comments to: Superintendent, P.O. Box 129, Big Bend National Park, Texas, 79834.