Snark Trail MTB Access Threatened

UPDATE: Snark Access has been retained for mountain bikers. Thank you for the support and petition signatures!

The Forest Lands Commission is considering a change of use negatively affecting bike access on Snark trail. It will be up for consideration at the August 11th FLC meeting. RVMBA is developing a petition and will have some signing parties at various locations around town in the coming days. Stay tuned to social media and member emails for more info!

Dear Forest Lands Commission: 

I am writing representing Rogue Valley Mountain Bike Association regarding your recent meeting held July 14th, 2020. It has come to our attention that there has been discussion and input from an equestrian user regarding removing mountain bike access in some form on Snark trail. 

Rogue Valley Mountain Bike Association strongly opposes any reduction in access in trails open to mountain biking. Currently we are experiencing a shortage of mountain bike trails in Ashland. Mountain bike activity and related tourism is rapidly increasing to the point that there is not enough service to meet the demand. Riders are being turned away from our local shuttle company due to lack of vans and an understanding that sustainability of our local trail system is paramount to any increase in revenue from mountain bike tourism. Restricting access just serves to put more pressure on our other well-used trails. 

One of the shortcomings of our existing trail system is a viable climbing trail on the east side of the watershed that allows bikes to bypass riding on winding city roads that are not only dusty, but contain blind corners and don’t create a desirable way into the trail system. Even so, traffic on Snark remains a fraction of what we see on other trails due to its difficult nature. It does, however, create an uphill option for advanced riders favoring cross country riding and technical uphill riding, as well as a downhill route for those who don’t want the higher speed, flow trail experience of BTI and Jabberwocky. 

Interactions between mountain bikers and hikers remain, for the overwhelming majority, extremely friendly. Snark is designed in a way that keeps speeds low due to the difficult nature of the trail, and those using it are primarily local riders. The trail is simply not appealing to the tourists who come to ride here, and data from Strava, a good marker of trail use, would strongly support this. 

To sum it up, RVMBA has not received any complaints or heard of any user issues between mountain bikes and other user groups. RVMBA strongly advocates for keeping current access in place, unless an equitable alternative is proposed and accepted. 

With mountain biking currently contributing a large share of tourism in Ashland, RVMBA’s history of volunteer work, and working relationship with the U.S.F.S. and the city of Ashland, we believe losing or restricting access on Snark and the route to Ashland Loop Road is a poor suggestion from a user group not representative of current trail use numbers, and not an appropriate consideration at this time. Additionally, a member who attended a meeting earlier this year reports that signage stating horses may be present on the trail was considered, however we have not seen signage stating this yet. Education through signage seems like the most appropriate response in this matter. 

We are always available to participate in the discussion, answer questions, and contribute to FLC meetings as we do represent a large share of users affected by FLC decision making. Thank you for your consideration of our letter and your continued service in keeping our watershed safe, sustainable, and enjoyable for users. 

Sincerely, 

Casey Botts RVMBA 

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