As most of you know, the Cibola National Forest is going through it's Forest Service (FS) plan revision. With the large turnout of approximately 200 mountain bikers to one of their public meetings, the FS determined they wanted a mountain biker on their team to give them input to their plan. They chose a representative from the local IMBA Chapter for numerous reasons, including IMBA’s reputation as being a positive force in creating and managing trails. As that representative, AMBA President Dan Robets attended a 3 day FS workshop on shared stewardship of the Forest where he met many influential people and had the privilege of representing mountain bikers. Expect a draft plan to surface this summer.
AMBA recently partnered with the Sandia Ranger District and was awarded a $50,000 Recreational Trails Program Grant money for improvements in the greater Cedro area! In order to receive this grant, AMBA has committed to provide the required non-Federal match (close to $3,000) to make this project happen.
With this funding, the Sandia Ranger District will be able to hire a 5 person trail crew for the 2017 summer season to implement more improvements (including trail relocations and new trails) to an already great trail system!
Some of the work will include a number of relocations on trails around Oak Flats such as the Pine Flat Connector, Pine Loop, Oak Flat connector, near Cedro - Meadow Singletrack, Bear Scat, Powerline. Also there will be a few newly designated trails to add more connectivity.
AMBA is in the process of signing a volunteer agreement with the Forest Service to lead independent work crews on Forest Service approved projects. This will give us the convenience of scheduling our own work days. Recent conversations with the Forest Service indicate that they are moving towards a community supported trail system. That means it's ours to make the most of.
Representing AMBA/IMBA members and Albuquerque area mountain bikers, AMBA submitted formal input indicating our belief that the Sandia Ranger District inventory areas under consideration for being declared as wilderness (and therefore off limits to mountain bikers) are not suitable for inclusion into the existing wilderness area, and that inclusion would not benefit the current diverse user groups and society in general.
On September 10, AMBA had a very informative meeting with Forest Supervisor Elaine Kohrman where she explained in detail the process for submitting comments to the Forest Service and their evaluation criteria. As she pointed out, the process is not a vote, i.e., the most submissions in favor or against wilderness wins. Rather, criteria specified by the Forest Service about each land parcel needed to be presented indicating why or why not that particular land parcel was or was not a good candidate for wilderness.
With this in mind, AMBA carefully went through each land parcel and documented, according to the Forest Service's criteria, why each land parcel was not a good candidate for wilderness. This was a significant and time consuming effort and kudos should be given to AMBA president Dan Roberts for driving this effort and to AMBA members Bob Galloway and Karl Haack for their detailed analysis of the various land parcels.
On September 25, AMBA sent their input to Forest Supervisor Elaine Kohrman. The input included 7 documents. The first was a general letter indicating our opposition that any of the land parcels be considered for wilderness. This document was signed by AMBA along with 13 other signatures representing local bike shops as well as a few other user groups. The other 6 documents were Forest Service "Evaluation Criteria Definition Matric and Comment Forms"--one for each land parcel. The submitted documents are listed below.