The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club has opposed the construction of the mountain biking trail (see
our stated position in 2011 here). The Lone Star Chapter does not oppose mountain biking in BBNP but believes that such activity should be confined to the extensive road system already established in the park and should not be expanded to include newly built mountain biking trails in backcountry areas. In addition, there are extensive new mountain bike trails already available to the public in nearby Big Bend Ranch State Park.
Moreover, the Lone Star Chapter is concerned that the National Park Service (NPS) procedures are being violated by BBNP proceeding with the construction of this trail at this time.
The trail work is being done first by Americorps and then America YouthWorks under direction of Jeff Renfrow, who is a guide with Desert Sports, a local outfitter that organizes mountain biking and river trips in the region. Jeff Renfrow is also the face of Big Bend Trails Alliance, which is affiliated with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).
According to the Parks Environmental Assessment (EA) for the mountain bike trail published in Dec. 2010, there are certain procedures that were required to be followed if this trail were to be constructed. The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club submitted substantive comments about the proposed trail in spring 2011, but no response from BBNP was provided to the Chapter or posted publicly until AFTER Chapter Conservation Chair Evelyn Merz raised questions about the reported trail construction on Wednesday, April 11. Moreover, the apparently required federal rulemaking process for construction of the trail is not underway yet even though vegetation is being cleared for the trail.
Whether or not the trail is ultimately built, the NPS needs to follow its own procedures and be transparent in its decisions. That includes proposing the required rules and soliciting public comment on those rules before adopting them and moving forward with any trail project.
The most important action that supporters of a wild Big Bend National Park can take at this point is to contact the Intermountain Division of the National Park Service in Denver, which has authority over Big Bend National Park, and register opposition to moving forward with mountain bike trail construction without allowing full public process to be completed.
The Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club asks that you contact
the following people at the division office and state that
you object to construction beginning on the Lone Mountain
Trail at Big Bend because the full public process governing
trail construction has not been completed.
The people to
contact are: John Wessels, Intermountain Regional Director
(303-969-2503 or email@example.com) or Ray Todd, Associate
Regional Director for Facilities and Land (303-969-2801 or