Tuesday, October 27, 2009

ADVOCACY ALERT!: Comments Sought on Stewardship Land Uses

The Wisconsin mountain biking community needs your assistance offering input on a proposed rule that may have an impact on trail development.

The rule pertains to state lands purchased with funds derived from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. When this program was created it stipulated that lands purchased with these funds be open to public access and specified: hunting, trapping, fishing, hiking and cross country skiing. These uses were the designated “nature-based outdoor activities” (NBOA) by the DNR. Bicycling or mountain biking were not included in this original list and therefore are not technically considered permissible uses.

As this new rule (NR 52) is being considered you are encouraged to submit comments requesting that these five NBOAs be expanded to include bicycling.

The current rule has already presented issues for trail development in the LaCrosse area. In our area there are also potential impacts: Land within the Mt. Ashwabay area, the Norse Sugarbush, is a State Natural Area purchased with Knowles-Nelson Stewardship funds. Because of this, trail development is restricted in that area. Additionally, the Lake Helene property recently purchased by the state was similarly funded. Should trail development ever be considered in that area, this could be an obstacle.
Of course there may be other properties in the future where this may be an issue.

The following information/talking points may be used to offer comments on the proposed rule, Chapter NR 52, Wisconsin Administrative Code:

Bicycling should be allowed on Knowles-Nelson Stewardship lands as one of the nature based activities listed as acceptable uses.

• Mountain biking was not even in existence when the NBOAs were originally decided.
• Research has proven that mountain bike riding has a similar impact as hiking when done on purpose-built, sustainable mountain bike trails. (International Mountain Bicycling Association research)
• Off road cycling’s popularity, economic impact and sustainable nature are proven - the CAMBA trails in the Cable-Hayward area are an excellent example.

• Mountain bike riding is compatible with most other forms of trail based recreation.
• The use of purpose-built, sustainably designed and constructed mountain bike trails insures protection of surrounding land and watersheds.
• Management of stewardship lands by local partner conservation organizations is the recommended model, i.e. local non-profit should be the decision-making steward for these lands.

Please direct your comments to:
Mr. Douglas Haag
Bureau of Facilities and Lands
P.O. Box 7921
Madison, WI 5370

It would also be a good idea to send the same comments to your state senator and assembly-person.

Comments need to be submitted by Friday, Oct. 30. Thank you.

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