Dear Mountain Biking Advocate:
It is now time to submit comments on the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Plan. Your comments will impact the decisions the USFS makes on how the forest will be managed for the next 20 years. Here is a link to the Forest Plan Revision Homepage:
SORBA recognizes that mountain biking in Western North Carolina is a major international destination for our constituency. With that knowledge, SORBA and key volunteers based in Western North Carolina have been engaged in the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest planning process for a decade to ensure that Forest management practices recognize the importance of mountain biking.
In addition, SORBA is acting in concert with the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership to create a unified response to the Forest Plan. This partnership includes conservation groups, forest products companies, and recreation organizations. SORBA recognizes that we must share the forests with other interests and these other stakeholders recognize the importance of mountain biking. Together we will create one response to the Forest Plan.
Here are the points that SORBA and the Nantahala-Pisgah Partnership agree upon and believe would be useful for you to address.
In respect to the USFS Forest plan, SORBA is overall satisfied:
- With the recognition that mountain biking is an important and vital outdoor activity on the forest.
- That none of our major existing system trails (open to bicycles) are threatened in the management alternatives.
- That management alternatives recognize that more bicycling trail is needed to meet demand and processes are outlined in the plan to allow for future expansion to system trails to meet the growing demand.
However, SORBA is unsatisfied with the proposed Forest Plan’s recommendation that restricts mountain biking to designated trails. Currently, legal riding occurs on non-system trails, and this change will prohibit this access. SORBA supports a designated trail system as a goal within the span of the plan but stresses the need to address the lack of riding opportunities in the forest first before any new restrictions are enacted.
In addition, we are not satisfied with the glaring and measurable lack of designated bike trails in some geographic areas, most notably, the Eastern Escarpment. We do not support any new Wilderness areas in the Eastern Escarpment until the unmet need for riding access is met. We do support other protective designations that allow mountain biking in these areas. To further evaluate trail needs, we support a Forest Service-led collaborative planning process or trail strategy in each geographic area.
Comments are due by June 29th should be submitted here: Commenting on Nantahala and Pisgah NFs Plan Revision.