Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why we need more trails, and better access to the ones we have

A few people have questioned why we are going to the effort and expense of building new trails in the Rubies. Fair enough. This stuff ain't easy - there's a lot of effort and money going into this, and sane people could easily wonder why we're bothering.

Here's why.

Check out this link from the Humboldt-Toyabe National Forest website, outlining every trail in the Ruby Mountain ranger district, which includes the Rubies and the East Humboldts. There are a grand total of 108 miles of trails people can actually use in the Rubies and East Humboldts combined. That's it. In a 450,000-acre ranger district. And some of those trails are almost impossible to find if you're not a local- there are no trailheads or signage and the trails themselves are almost invisible. Some of them are so obscure that they don't even show up on USGS topographic maps. Several of the ones you CAN find are duplicates that access the same places.

See for yourself. Break out a calculator and do the math. Here's the link.

While you have your calculator out, add up the trails that ordinary folks are locked out of. 234 miles of trails that we can't access because they're behind locked gates.

If we can't get easements to access these trails, and landowners at the bottom of the canyons haven't been forthcoming in that regard, then we're going to have to build new trails so that we can legally get up into these mountains.

And, for what it's worth, one of my next volunteer goals will be to develop signage and trailheads for the few trails we actually CAN get to, as well as developing volunteer teams to get up there and do some trail maintenance and improvements. We're going to lose the very few trail miles we have if we don't roll up our sleeves and do something about it. Right now, many of those trails aren't much more than lines on maps - they're there legally but they often aren't there on the ground.

Seriously - click on the link and do the math yourself. Even I was surprised at how few trail miles in these mountains we can actually use.

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