— By Brendan Giusti — The Daily Times
Posted: 03/13/2010 12:00:00 AM MST
FARMINGTON — Issues surrounding the usage of the Glade Run Recreation Area, located north of Farmington, are deeply personal and divisive.
Keith Ashmore rides his mountain bike in the area, while members of the Cliffhanger Jeep Club use the terrain to drive off-road vehicles.
Both Ashmore and the club members agree the area is enjoyable. Both also agree the existing land management plan does not sufficiently meet the needs of the different users.
Both plan to attend a public meeting Tuesday to discuss proposals from the Bureau of Land Management to keep the space usable to all groups while addressing the concerns.
“If we don’t do it, in five years we’re going to be right back at the table,” Ashmore said.
The No. 1 concern for many bicyclists is safety.
One year ago, Ashmore and fellow mountain bikers were run off a trail in the recreation area by what he described as an illegal off-road vehicle race; dozens of motorized vehicles cruising the trails side by side.
“We were fighting for our lives out there,” Ashmore said. “They were just running us off the dirt.”
The motorized vehicles kicked rocks at the cyclists, Ashmore said. The riders were shouting at the bikers to get off the trail.
“Someone could have gotten killed easily,” Ashmore said.
Two years ago, Ashmore came around a corner on a trail and was thrown off his bike when he hit an oncoming dirt-bike rider.
“It’s just a free-for-all,” he said.
Ashmore received stitches in his arm for his injuries and his bicycle was crumpled in the wreck.
“I had a big gash in my arm,” Ashmore said.
The dirt bikers gave Ashmore a rag to suppress the wound and a ride to his house after the accident.
“Neither one of us were breaking the rules,” Ashmore said.
The accident was a result of too many people using the trails, he said. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. Rather an inevitable accident in the increasingly popular recreation area.
“The Glade is basically being loved to death,” Ashmore said. “We shouldn’t be sharing trails because people get hurt.”
Ashmore supports the Bureau of Land Management’s option C, which designates one area of the glade for non-motorized use, which includes, hiking, bicycling and equestrian groups. Another part of the area would be used by dirt bikes, ATVs and other motorized vehicles.
Option B designates a combined motorized/non-motorized single-track area, while creating a separate area for larger motorized vehicles.
“The reality is we shouldn’t be sharing single-track trails,” Ashmore said.
Jim Cooper disagrees.
Cooper is a planner for Pan Pacific Services in Grand Junction, Colo., which is representing the Cliff Hanger Jeep Club in the process.
“I’m not supporting segregated trails,” Cooper said. “Mountain biking and motorcycling are almost identical.”
The average speed of a dirt bike on a single-track trail is about 10 mph, Cooper said.
Cooper disputes the claim by area cyclists that there is a safety concern with sharing the trails.
“If it’s a dire threat they wouldn’t do it (ride shared trails),” Cooper said.
National parks are a safe alternative for hikers who don’t want to be around motorized vehicles, Coopers said.
BLM officials plan to host a public meeting to seek comments from area residents on how to best improve the recreation area to meet the needs of the different groups which frequently use the space.
“We’re trying not to take that away completely from the motorized group,” said Janelle Alleman, outdoor recreation planner for the BLM’s Farmington field office.
Comments will be sought on everything from preventing trash dumping in the Glade to resolving conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users of the space.
“When they meet on the trail there is a safety issue associated with it,” Alleman said.
Cooper said there is no safety issue if proper signs are posted and the various groups are educated about safety.
“People don’t ride Harleys on a single-track trail,” Cooper said. “You can have the experience you want by selecting the time and the place you want it.”
Brendan Giusti: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to comment
What: Public meeting to review the proposed alternatives to the Glade Run Recreation Area management plan
When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Henderson Fine Arts Building, Room 9008, at San Juan College
Comments can be e-mailed from the BLM Web site blm.gov/nm. Include “Glade Run Recreation Area Proposal” in the subject line.
The comment period runs through March 31. All comments must be submitted in writing or mailed to:
1235 La Plata Highway
Farmington, NM, 87401
All comments will be made public unless otherwise indicated.
Proposed plans can be viewed online at blm.gov/nm.