In early March, the city of Frederick's DPW held an initial meeting to get an overview of the watershed from the perspective of all of it's users, and controlling groups.
Among the groups represented were the Fish and Wildlife service, DNR, Frederick Steeple-chasers (runners), equestrians, PATC (hikers), Herpetologists, City officials (like Alderwoman Kelly Russel), Frederick Parks and Rec, and of course us, the Mountain Bikers. (Also referred to as "locusts" by a DNR official). This group of Mountain Bikers, made up of Joe Whitehair, Ryan Delaney (IMBA), Clyde Hicks (Owner of Trail House and official liaison of the Blue Trail to the City since the 90's), Tom Rinker (owner of Bicycle Escape), Phil Vanwerkhoven (MORE waterdshed liaison), Dave Kalt (long time rider and trail worker, MORE ), and me (Hillary Elgert), have come together as a work group. The mission of this work group is to gather data to defend the trails in the hopes that they may be included in a new Recreational Management Plan for the Watershed.
This group of mountain bikers has been assembled from a smaller group, who have been communicating with the City to manage and expand area trails for years.
Happy there's a pump track in Frederick now? You can thank Joe, among others in this group, for their efforts in making this and other local trails happen. Core members in this group have the appropriate connections with City officials, a feel for how the system works (and the ability to stomach it), to be an invaluable asset to the mountain biking community. Their voice is no more or less important then anyone else, they are just the willing to do the work and deal with the politics and process.
That being said, none of the members of this group have any say which trails stay or go. I was glad to see that, no matter what riding background they come from, none of the members want ANY of the trails closed. They see all of the trails as an asset to the area that should be fought for. It has been made clear to the City and DNR that if they want any trails closed, they will get no help from this group.
The meeting began with an introduction by everyone in the room of themselves, their title, interest in the Watershed, and their concerns and hopes for it's future. Needless to say, this took up most of the meeting. The head of DPW led the meeting by writing down the key points on a board. By the end of the meeting, it was clear that everyone's objective was conservation, regardless of our intended use. From there he felt we had a good starting point to appoint a task force, comprised of members from each of the organized groups represented, to write, re-write, amend, fight over, and finally, bring before the City to vote on, a Recreational Management Plan.
Before I was involved in this work group, they drafted an initial trail assessment matrix based on the map of trails just created by the city. They submitted this as a work in progress to the city prior to the meeting. DPW confirmed this was a good approach and a useful tool as we move forward. Now the fight begins to keep the amendments in our favor!
The strength behind this fight will come from hard data gathered on the trails. We will be taking slope measurements and cataloging trail conditions on all of the trails appearing on the Citys recently created trail map. Combating mis information such as trail run off getting into streams, and proposing solutions for eroded trails.
Say hi of you see us out there. Until next time!