North Fork Nooksack User Built Trail Closure!

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Action Alert!
Take action and make your voice heard!

 

North Fork Nooksack User Built Trail Closure!

 

Beginning on April 2nd the Washington State Department of Resources (DNR) will be decommissioning all user-built bike trails on Slide Mountain at the North Fork Nooksack in Whatcom County!

 

The work, estimated to cost $23,000, will begin on April 2nd and will be done by the DNR and a crew from Washington Conservation Corps.  Work includes closure signage, removal of larger structures, blocking and revegetating trail entrances, and a gate to block all motorized access to Slide Mountain.

 

Starting April 7th, DNR law enforcement will be patrolling the area and riders found on the trails will receive a $120 ticket the first time, and be subject to arrest for trespassing the second time!!

 

Why is this happening?

Whatcom Trails Co-op and Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance were informed of the trail decommissioning two weeks ago by DNR.  At that time the explanation for the closure was that an individual from a motorized user group was insisting that if motorized use wasn’t allowed on Slide Mountain, then all unauthorized trails must be closed down.

 

In an effort to learn more about DNR concerns and find a way to address them while keeping trails open, we arranged a meeting that was held Friday, March 23rd.  What we heard from DNR was that there was no solution short of complete closure, a position which is made all the more difficult to accept given that much of this area is currently being logged-a scale of impact beyond anything non-motorized recreation could ever cause.

 

The DNR was represented at the meeting by Region and Division staff and by the statewide recreation manager.  The primary concerns expressed by DNR, and our responses, were:

  • Unauthorized Trail Construction – Certainly it is true that there are mountain bike trails on the hill and DNR has difficulty managing unauthorized trail areas.  However, it is also true that there are hundreds or thousands of miles of unauthorized, non-motorized trails on DNR forests across the state and very little effort is made to decommission or enforce closures on those trails, even those with clear environmental impacts.  It is important to note that there are no authorized areas to recreate on DNR land in Whatcom County.  Unauthorized areas like North Fork are reflections of the huge unmet need for recreational access.
  • Structures –  Most “structures” are simple bridges, built to span wet zones or creeks that were constructed in accordance with industry-leading trail building standards.  We offered to decommission any structure that wasn’t built to address sediment or erosion concerns.
  • Sediment / Erosion –  The North Fork was closed to motorized use roughly 7 years ago because of heavy sediment runoff from the trails and four-wheeling in or near the North Fork of the Nooksack.  Sediment transport is not a real issue for the trails constructed by mountain bikers because:
  1. We have no trails near the river.
  2. Our trails were specifically routed to avoid creeks and riparian zones wherever possible and were built sustainably to avoid erosion and reduce maintenance.
  3. When necessary, bridges were constructed from blowdown (not live trees) for spanning any small creeks or wet zones.
  4. Put simply, it would be difficult and unenjoyable to ride a mountain bike in such overtly muddy areas, resulting in a low-quality recreational experience and an obvious detrimental effect on the environment.
  • Popularity – Despite our attempts to keep the area from becoming widely known, it has become too popular.  Riders are now coming not just from Bellingham but from across the state and even Canada – a testament to the quality of the trail network and the need for such human-powered recreational areas.

What can you do?

If you care about having mountain biking opportunities in Whatcom county, make your opinion count! Get in touch with the folks who are making these decisions and let them know your thoughts. If we don’t speak up, nothing will change.

Please visit our Website for talking points, and specific contact info for: DNR representatives, Whatcom County Dept of Tourism, the Whatcom County commissioner and Whatcom County council members.

Thanks for taking action and making your voice heard!!

Glenn Glover

Executive Director

Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance

Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance
Is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to creating and protecting mountain biking oppportunities in Washington State. All donations are tax-deductible to the maximum extent permitted by law.
If that mission is important to you please support us by becoming a Member or Make a donation!

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