I have many friends who support the Barbour cycling proposal. I really respect their passion, but I do not support the proposal. I have spent some weeks thinking the matter over and contemplating the issues.
As a hiker, I feel there is a conflict between the two sports. The mountain bikers want to get their workout in nature, flying up and down hills, and theres nothing wrong with this in principle. The hiker is thrilled with pure nature, with being in it, not flying over it. To say the Barbour trails are multi-use seems ridiculous to me, on two fronts most hikers are not interested in hiking aimless loops that are more geared for roller-coaster-like hill thrills than appreciating nature; and hiking on the proposed trails would be out for me. I dont like hiking when I know at any moment, cyclists might pile into me from behind. (horses wouldnt like that either.)
Along with many of my hiking friends, I think there are enough mountain bike trails already established: Swansea, Johnson Canyon, Kloosifer, Juniper Heights, Old Coach, Panorama, Paradise Mine, Steamboat Mountain, Columbia Lake and the proposed trail along the Westside Road. The cycling society even claims Brewer as their trail which is astounding! I certainly oppose that claim. Brewer is a nature sanctuary and should remain so.
It does seem to me and like-minded people, that the Barbour proposal is now over the top. And that is why they are getting push-back. It feels like the cycling society is taking over everywhere.
I would say that in this small town, the cycling club is hard put to even maintain the downhill cycling trails on Swansea. The ruts and erosion are huge and ugly.
The thought that the club wants to get onto Swanseas south ridge is very disturbing, as that is one place I have found where you can still be with nature and visit the wild grouse that live up there.
The story is the same on the Johnson Canyon trails: huge ugly ruts mar the way, and for sure I do not hike there for fear of some biker coming out of nowhere and knocking me over. You can imagine how the animals feel, which is likely why they vacated the area.
It is ridiculous to say biking will not disturb the wildlife up at Barbour. I agree entirely with Paul Baumans letter last week which claims truthfully that this area is a real piece of undisturbed wilderness, inhabited by much wildlife. It should remain so. It would be a shame to see the Barbour area all rutted up and eroded, with wildlife flying away in all directions to avoid the lightning speed bikes, a phrase a local cyclist likes to use. Many cyclists for sure are going to go for lightning speed because their enjoyment comes from flying like heck over the landscape.
I am of the opinion that trails like this would be better located at a place like Nipika Resort, where the land is privately owned and there is no conflict with public use. Further, fees could be charged on private land, to pay for the maintenance. Barbour is public land and should be protected as such – for humans and wildlife.
Finally I am happy to see the big turnout for the cycling societys open house, which attests to the support of mountain biking in this valley. But I am of the opinion that the supporters were urged to show up, which is why 170 people supported it. That was like preaching to the converted.
It is good to remember that the open house was not a public hearing, where protest could be legitimately lodged with the RDEK. A referendum on the issue would settle the matter.
Mary Ann Rombach