I’d like to comment on the article in last Friday’s Review, titled “Bike trail idea: A mountain of debate”.
I was involved in the fundraising for the Grand Forest in 1990 and have been a board member of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust and BILT Stewardship Committee. I was involved in the Gazzam Lake purchase fundraising and was on the board when BILT negotiated the purchase of the Heart of the Forest.
Worthy of note in my opinion:
• “A deal is in the works to connect those two parts of the parks.” That statement is misleading. The HOF is going to remain in ownership of BILT when the owner passes. The statement gives false hope to mountain bikers that they will be able to use HOF as they do any other trail in the GF or GFN. It is unknown how the HOF will be integrated into the Grand Forest, and with a conservation easement on the HOF will most probably not allow for exclusive bike trails to be constructed.
• “However, Hamlin emphasized if trails eventually are built at North Grand Forest they will not be exclusive to mountain bikers.” My understanding is that the trails would be for the exclusive use of MTB; that’s the whole premise of the proposed GFN facility and is contrary to the basic tenet in the establishment of the Grand Forest, i.e. multi-use trails.
• “Hamlin said he finds it ironic that for 10 years mountain bikers have used North Grand Forest without complaints. The complaints only started when the new trails were discussed. Parks has basically ignored GFN, admittedly allowing that the site was choked off with fallen trees.” Why would walkers/hikers/birders want to wade through fallen trees and thick undergrowth? “It was only because we had a stewardship group that we opened it,” Hamlin said of the Gear Grinders.” My question is: How interesting is a perimeter trail for hikers and walkers compared to meandering trails in the GFE, GFW and Hilltop? The perimeter trail was created and has been primarily used by MTB’ers, but has also been used occasionally by other users. A series of multi-use trails in GFN would probably attract more walkers/hikers/birders than have been in the GFN in the past.
•”We are conducting a wildlife biology review to determine the impacts of the design…” Who is conducting the review: an outside group, environmental specialists, MTB group such as the Evergreen Mtn Bike Alliance? Different consulting groups with different perspectives will probably come up with very different recommendations and findings.
• Terry Lande said “They looked at other sites, but none seemed to work as well.” Because parks has a successful program for mountain bikers doesn’t mean parks has to come up with the land to accommodate MTB wishes, especially if the proposed facility violates a founding tenet of the Grand Forest being open to the public and trails being multi-user friendly. If the MTB groups want their own skill trails without the worry of encountering other users, they should find a separate property and work out a deal with the owner to buy, lease, rent or obtain an easement to build their MTB facility.