Speak now or forever...

Back in September, we reported about a proposal for a new mountain bike park near Pagosa Springs, in an area known as Jackson Mountain. Well, now’s the time to submit public comment, if that’s your thing.

If you want the full deep dive, check out the original Sept. 28 story at durangotele graph.com or on the e-edition (also found on the website). Or maybe someone used an old issue for Christmas wrapping paper you can still find in the recycling?

To sum it up: The Forest Service this past fall launched a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process on Jackson Mountain, which encompasses about 11,000 acres north of Pagosa, to look at several proposed recreation and vegetation management projects.

The most controversial aspect of that project is a call for up 40 miles of new mountain bike and multi-use trails on about 4,500 acres. What’s so wrong with new trails, you ask? Well…

For starters, most of the trails were created illegally by mountain bikers, and now, opponents of the project say formalizing the trails into the Forest Service’s system shouldn’t reward bad behavior. Plus, a lot of the unauthorized trails were created in important wildlife habitat.

Supporters of the project, however, say by formalizing a trail system, they can be better maintained and redirected away from wildlife. The trails are already there and the people won’t stop riding, thinking goes, so really the best path forward is to recognize the trails and manage them to the best of our ability.

Regardless of where you stand, the Forest Service’s NEPA process is now in the public comment stage for the next 45 days until Feb. 23. You can find out all the ways to submit comments by checking out the project’s website at: https://bit.ly/3QzkjmE.

Also, a public open house is planned for 5-7 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Ross Aragon Community Center, South Conference Room, 451 Hot Springs Boulevard in Pagosa.

There’s also a ton of other proposed projects within the Forest Service’s NEPA for Jackson Mountain, aside from the mountain bike park. Some of those include adding more recreational infrastructure (toilets, parking), fuels reduction and vegetation management, as well as a proposed new gravel pit. All that info can be found in the link provided above.

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