The Crown: Volunteers boost trails in 2018, with more to come in 2019!

In 2018, the Crown got a big make-over that benefited mountain biking and recreation as a whole in the Roaring Fork Valley.  New trails and a parking lot were built, existing trails received much needed maintenance, and bandit camping areas were cleaned up to be replaced by fresh campgrounds.

Much of the improvements made in Prince Creek was due to super volunteer efforts from individuals and the community as a whole.  One of the volunteers behind the recent improvements is RFMBA’s own board member Todd Fugate whose efforts were highlighted in this great article by Genevieve Joëlle Villamizar in the Bonedale Amplified blog. 

Villamizar notes in the article that volunteering to work on trails is infectious.  Even for people who don’t ride bikes.  Last season, volunteers helped build new sections of trail below the popular Father of Ginormous trail, a major re-route of the lower Jens trail and the new Dinkle Link Trail.

This year, more opportunities for local volunteers will be available so anyone can reap the benefits of joining in the community efforts to improve the community asset of The Crown.

But for a trail network such as the Crown’s MTB system to become a reality. It takes more than just super volunteers like Todd.  Villamizar notes that there is plenty going on behind the scenes:

Thanks to a bunch of governmental agencies, nonprofits and local businesses, almost a decade of effort finally hit pay dirt last year, with the Crown’s official designation as a Special Recreation Management Area (SMRA).

As Darren Broome of Aloha Mountain Cyclery explains it, “Unlike Mushroom Rock, which has the Red Hill Council, Prince Creek and the Crown area are primarily BLM lands with a little bit of private mixed in. But there was no ‘local’ organization looking out for Prince Creek. It’s kinda been like the wild west up there for years. Anything went– mountain biking; there were motorcycles, ATVs, Jeeps, horseback riders and hikers. With the SMRA, there was an environmental impact study. It cataloged approved, existing and renegade trails that were then either ‘legalized’ or closed; made it more ‘official’. It also looked at flow issues and approved building more trails, directional trails, for safety and flow.”

As a local bike shop directly benefiting from Prince Creek, Aloha Mountain Cyclery has somewhat unofficially adopted the Prince Creek area over the years. (In general, Aloha has been involved in community in so many ways for years.)

“It’s our community and our trail system. We feel like it’s our obligation to step in too, to help maintain and  grow the trail systems,” Darren says. “So Aloha sponsors trail maintenance days. We provide the food and drink to get volunteers out there. We work with Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV) and RFMBA. Between the two of them, they provide tools, leadership and guidance.”

But as most people who do come out and volunteer know, digging  dirt with a bunch of fun locals isn’t the only perk one gets from volunteering.  The group sessions usually finish with a good on-site pizza and adult beverage party.  Pizza and suds delivered to you while gazing at the sun sets on Mt Sopris.  What could be better?

Keep an eye out for volunteer opportunities throughout the summer of 2019 at RFMBA.org

Read the article by Genevieve Joëlle Villamizar published last summer for a good look at what its like inside the mind of Todd Fugate and the trail elves of the Prince Creek and Crown MTB Trail system.

2018 Year in Review – Time to Focus on 2019!

We’ve had a truly exceptional year for trails and mountain biking in the Roaring Fork Valley! This wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of our volunteers, Annual Members, individual Donors, Business Partners, and granting foundations. As we look towards 2019, we need your help and creativity to continue our efforts to create and sustain the best possible mountain bike trail system and experiences in our region.

The Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association serves the communities from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, New Castle and beyond. Since forming as a non-profit in 2008, our volunteer efforts have been bolstered by support staff to greatly increase our impact and make significant progress on our mission’s work. With your annual support, we’ll continue our work and accomplish even more!

During 2018, our advocacy, design, and coordination efforts + our highly valued public land manager partnerships resulted in many trail projects including: the new South Canyon Trail System (Tramway, Lighting Bug, & Coal Camp),improvements to Prince Creek including an extension of the Father of Ginormous, the Next Jen trail, and the Dinkle Link. Our New Castle Trails committee completed the Colorow Flow Trails (Goose & Maverick), while Aspen area riders welcomed the Upper Hummingbird extension and the revamped Upper Plunge. Volunteer trail work hours continued to increase this year due to our volunteer incentive Bike Giveaway program. Our first year Trail Agent program (trained independent volunteers) logged over 600 hours, while our first year Seasonal Trail Crew tackled over 1,500 hours of maintenance on high use and remote trails. Looking towards next year, we will see more trail improvements throughout our region. Imagine what else we’ll accomplish with your support!

We believe that World Class Trails benefit our local communities. Modern trails lead to healthy and vibrant local residents while offering an economic boost to our tourism dependent region. Our work is a public benefit that effects economic development, encourages healthy lifestyles, and increases the environmental stewardship of public lands. By focusing on trail experiences for both new and younger riders we are increasing the number of people who will benefit from our shared public lands.

As our region’s population and visitation increase, while federal land manager’s budgets simultaneously decrease, the need for volunteer and professional stewardship of our public lands also continues to increase.  Our advocacy outreach and education efforts lead to a greater understanding by land managers of the value provided by modern, high quality, bike-optimized trails. As most of our trails are multi-use, our work benefits all trail users by reducing conflicts and improving experiences on the land.

Our efforts to organize the mountain bike community have already resulted in increased stewardship of trails. Our planning work to set the stage and gain approvals for trail system improvements is now ongoing throughout the valley. We are leading the charge to design and implement trail systems that will cater to youth riders, visiting tourists, and long time enthusiasts.

In order to continue our advocacy and education work, and to complement our Annual Membership and Business Partnership Programs, we are seeking generous Direct Donations to support RFMBA’s ongoing and future work. Rise to our biggest challenge by sponsoring an additional 2019 Seasonal Trail Crew member today! Patrons at the highest level support training, equipment, and all costs for a seasonal trail crew member that will positively impact trail conditions throughout our region.

Significant support for programs that increase volunteer stewardship, like our Trail Agent Program, or generous gifts towards specific trail construction projects (please ask us about our RFMBA Trail Fund) will also directly impact our effect on our local communities.

We would love to share the specifics of our many trail planning and program initiatives with you. If you have any questions or ideas about local trails or our mission, please contact us. Thanks for your interest in providing better trails for everyone!

Thanks for your support in 2018!  Now it’s time to focus on 2019!

PS: While this appeal is for your direct support of RFMBA’s general operations, you’re always welcome to Join Us by becoming an RFMBA Annual Member.

Where to Fat Bike in the Roaring Fork Valley

You can easily escape the lifts and skiers on a fat bike this winter.  Just check out these trails and get your gear on!

TRAILS THAT REMAIN OPEN THROUGHOUT WINTER (CONDITIONS PERMITTING)

Aspen Fat Bike Loop: Includes portions of the Aspen Golf Course, Marolt Open Space and Maroon Creek Trail linking the ARC to the Aspen Golf Course.

Snowmass: Brush Creek, Owl Creek(at Pines), Melton, Village Way, and Fox Run Trails are groomed for fat bikes.

Rio Grande Trail: Full trail from Aspen to Glenwood Springs (Except for the two mile section between Rock Bottom Ranch and Catherine Store)

Red Hill: All “front side” trails south of Elk Traverse.

Prince Creek Below North Porcupine:  Prince Creek Climbing Trail, Monte Carlo, Christmas Tree, Lower FOG.

Grandstaff Trail: Access by riding up Red Mountain Road in Glenwood Springs.

Lower New Castle Trails: Prendergast Hill, Medaris, Pub View, Salty Dalty & Jolley Trails

Of course, if weather should hit the valley before these dates causing muddy/wet conditions, please stay off trails until they dry out or freeze over.

Forest Service seeks comments on Basalt Mountain Salvage and Rehabilitation Project

Basalt Mountain Salvage and Rehabilitation project will take place on National Forest Lands impacted by the Lake Christine Fire

BASALT, Colo. – The Lake Christine Fire started in early July of 2018 and impacted just over 8,500 acres of National Forest lands north of Basalt, Colorado, on the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District. Since the fire, the Forest Service has identified the opportunity for management actions in the area.

The Forest Service is seeking public comments on the Basalt Mountain Salvage and Rehabilitation project. The project would remove roadside hazard trees along Cattle Creek Road (NFSR 509) and Basalt Mountain Road (NFSR 524), create defensible space near homes in the Cattle Creek area, salvage burned and partially burned trees with marketable or usable value (logs and/or biomass) to local/regional industry, monitor and assess for natural reforestation, and allow for future tree planting as needed.

“We would like to address the impacts from the fire as soon as possible and take actions within the burned area to ensure long-term and reliable public access,” said Kevin Warner, acting District Ranger. “For safety reasons, we want to remove hazard trees along roadways and harvest merchantable trees in places already identified as suitable for these types of management actions.”

“Moving forward with this project quickly will help to ensure that the burned trees in the area are still useable,” said Kevin Warner, Acting District Ranger. “We look forward to hearing from the public at the upcoming open-house meeting, or through the public comment process.”

This project would be in addition to the short-term emergency actions that are ongoing by the Burned Area Emergency Response Team.

How to Comment:

The opportunity to comment is initiated by a legal notice published in the Aspen Times Weekly on Nov. 29, 2018. Specific written comments on the proposed project will be accepted for 30 calendar days following publication of the legal notice in the Aspen Times Weekly. The publication date in the newspaper of record is the exclusive means for calculating the comment period. The regulations prohibit extending the length of the comment period.

Written comments must be submitted via mail, fax, electronically, or in person (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays) to: Karen Schroyer, District Ranger, c/o Christopher McDonald, PO Box 309, Carbondale, Colorado 81623, FAX: (970) 963-1012. Electronic comments including attachments can be submitted to Electronic comments including attachments can be submitted to https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public//CommentInput?Project=55031

Project Page: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=55031

Persons commenting should include: 1) name, address, telephone number, organization represented, if any; 2) title of project for which the comment is being submitted; and 3) specific facts and supporting reasons for the Responsible Official to consider. It is the responsibility of persons providing comments to submit them by the close of the comment period. Only those who submit timely and specific written comments will have eligibility to file an objection under §218.8. Individuals and organizations wishing to be eligible to object must meet the information requirements in §218.25(a)(3). Names and contact information submitted with comments will become part of the public record. The legal notice also serves to notify and invite public comment on the proposal as stipulated in 36 CFR 800.3 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Additional information regarding this action can be obtained from: Christopher McDonald, (970) 625-6856 or email at cmcdonald@fs.fed.us

Aspen Designated Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists

ASPEN, CO. – Today, the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) recognized the City of Aspen with a gold level Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) award. Aspen has previously been recognized as a silver level community and is joining five other communities, including Carbondale, Crested Butte and Breckenridge, that are designated as a gold level BFC in the state of Colorado. Colorado is ranked as the sixth most bicycle friendly state in the U.S. The gold level BFC award recognizes Aspen’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.

“Providing safe, accessible bike options and routes for our community has been made possible because of the strong partnerships between the city, local biking organizations, transportation partners and bicyclists,” said city engineer, Trish Aragon. “The initiatives and programs that make Aspen bike-friendly are powered by insights from this community and strategic planning. City engineering is currently evaluating opportunities for making continued improvements to connectivity and bicycle infrastructure in 2019. We look forward to hearing more from the community about their observations on ways to enhance bike conditions in the city.”

Over recent years, the city has completed or initiated several key bike-friendly programs and projects including the Hopkins Bike Ped Way, Castle Creek Bridge / Hallam Street Improvement Project, the expanded WE-cycle program and phase II of the Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan.

 2019 Bike-Friendly Projects

The city’s bike-friendly programs and projects are collaborative efforts among city’s engineering, parks and open space, police and transportation departments and rely on input from the community and local organizations.

 “The connectivity and conditions of our bike infrastructure are important for how people across our community travel our city safely,” said parks and open space trails field supervisor, Brian Long. “I’m thrilled to see Aspen honored as bike-friendly community and excited to continue making progress.”

Current projects for City of Aspen Parks and Open Space include Castle Creek Trail to the Music School, a neighborhood trail at Burlingame, drainage and armor improvements on the Meadows Trail, and increased bike racks downtown.

In January, City of Aspen Engineering plans to present revised Engineering Standards to city council for adoption which refers to the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) guidelines.  Engineering will also be leading new capital projects next year including the Hallam Street Bike Ped Way and Garmish Street improvements. In addition to bike condition improvements, both projects will address safety and connectivity concerns. Details for each project are being finalized and are expected to be announced next year.

 LAB Bicycle Friendly Community Program

With the announcement of 61 new and renewing BFCs today, Aspen is part of a leading group of communities in every state that are transforming the American landscape.

“We applaud these communities for making bicycling a safe and convenient option for transportation and recreation,” said Bill Nesper, Executive Director at the League of American Bicyclists. “We are encouraged by the growing number of leaders who see bicycling as a way to build more vibrant, healthy, sustainable and connected ommunities and be a part of the solution to many complex challenges faced at both the community and national levels. We look forward to continuing to work with these communities as we move closer to our mission of creating a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.”

Since the Bicycle Friendly Community program’s inception over 20 years ago, more than 800 distinct communities have applied for recognition.  The program provides a roadmap to building a Bicycle Friendly Community for communities of all shapes and sizes. The rigorous application process is an educational tool in itself, and includes an opportunity for local bicyclists to provide input on their experiences and perceptions of bicycling in their community.

The five levels of the BFC award – diamond, platinum, gold, silver and bronze, plus an honorable mention category and a no designation level – provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve.  The League of American Bicyclists provides feedback and guidance to every applicant community, regardless of award designation, with the goal of helping every community to improve.  Awarded communities must renew their status every four years to ensure that they not only maintain existing efforts, but also keep up with changing technology, national safety standards, and community-driven best practices.

The BFC program is revolutionizing the way communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability, and accessibility, while allowing them to benchmark progress toward improving their bicycle-friendliness. With this latest round of new and renewing awardees, there are currently 464 BFCs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

To learn more about the BFC program, visit bikeleague.org/community.

About the Bicycle Friendly AmericaSM Program

The Bicycle Friendly CommunitySM, Bicycle Friendly StateSM, Bicycle Friendly BusinessSM and Bicycle Friendly UniversitySM programs are generously supported by program partner Eco-Counter and by League Members. To learn more about building a Bicycle Friendly America, visit www.bikeleague.org/BFA

The League of American Bicyclists is leading the movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. As leaders, our commitment is to listen and learn, define standards and share best practices to engage diverse communities and build a powerful, unified voice for change.