Spring Hollow and Grass Valley
Mountain Biking Project
Scoping and Notice of Opportunity to Comment
Pine Valley Ranger District, Dixie National Forest, Washington County, Utah
The Pine Valley Ranger District (PVRD) of the Dixie National Forest is providing this notice to inform you about a mountain bike project we are proposing on United States Forest Service system lands in Washington County, Utah. The environmental effects of the proposed project are being analyzed by Forest resource specialists. This document serves as notification of scoping and the 30-day Opportunity to Comment on the project. We welcome your comments, concerns and suggestions regarding this proposal.
The PVRD is known for dramatic scenery and expansive natural landscapes. The district is situated in the southwest corner of Utah. Within its boundaries, the Great Basin and Colorado River Basin come together. The city of St. George is situated seven thousand feet below the top of the Pine Valley Mountains to the south. Three deserts collide near the city at the foot of the mountains.
The Spring Hollow Network is situated north of St. George, Utah and the Red Cliffs Reserve. It sits between Snow Canyon State Park to the west and Zion National Park to the east. Vertical granite spires appear above Spring Hollow, but volcanic activity has produced a gentle out slope that descends from their feet. Mahogany Knoll and Cedar Knoll were both formed by volcanic uplift and cross-country loops have been designed to circumnavigate the conical upwellings, thereby providing exceptional views of Zion and Snow Canyon. Due to this ancient volcanic activity, large swaths of land descend at consistent grade down Cedar Bench. This geologic foundation makes the proposed Spring Hollow network an ideal location for a sustainable trail system. As its name indicates, spring-fed streams did once flow abundantly through Spring Hollow. Today there is little water flowing through the trail network, though ephemeral streams produced by spring runoff after winters with large snow accumulation and very deep snowpack do appear intermittently.
The Grass Valley Network is situated to the northwest of Pine Valley, Utah. This community is surrounded on three sides by the Pine Valley Mountains. The northern portion of the network is located near Grass Valley Reservoir, which is full of water in spring months as it captures runoff. In summer, fall, and winter, the reservoir is generally dry.
The neighboring city of Saint George, Utah has experienced a 27 percent population growth since 2010. Along with this population increase has come added interest in outdoor recreation including mountain biking. The Pine Valley Ranger District hosted a workshop in Fall 2019 where local and federal land managers, mountain bikers, bike shop owners, guides/outfitters, and community members gathered to determine what needs there were in terms of mountain biking on Forest Service System lands. This workshop, along with multiple other meetings and conversations with stakeholders throughout Washington County, identified the need for new trails and trail systems in the area. Specifically, the stakeholders advocated for trails that would:
- Be near enough to greater St. George that residents can ride before and after work and enjoy with relatively little drive time.
- Feature a variety of trails that are family friendly and can be enjoyed by a wide range of ability levels.
- Be located at high-elevation and have cooler temperatures, expanding the Washington County mountain bike season into hot summer months.\
- Offer appropriate trails for school-age children (including those involved with National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA)) to hold team practices and increase skills, especially on hot afternoons after school and during hotter months.
- Offer advanced riders and downhill mountain bikers challenging terrain that is designed and designated to increase safety by preventing conflicts and collisions with hikers, equestrian users, and other cyclists.
- Increase quality of life for residents to help draw in new homeowners and businesses, adding socioeconomic value to the community while increasing quality of life for community members.
- Entice mountain bike tourists to spend a few more days and dollars in St. George after riding other nearby systems and expand mountain bike tourist season into hot summer months.
- Be designed with community input and then maintained by the local mountain bike community
- Assist Washington County with hosting “Greater Zion” recreation tourism to meet their economic goals surrounding outdoor recreation.
- Provide a venue to generate tourist dollars via mountain bike and trail running races and events.
- Aid St. George BLM Field Office and Zion National Park by providing a much-needed location for dispersed recreational use to reduce the significant overcrowding and overuse they are experiencing
How to Comment and Timeframe
Notice of Opportunity to Comment Process.
The opportunity to comment ends 30 calendar days following the publication of the legal notice for this proposed project in The Spectrum (the official newspaper of record for the Dixie National Forest). The publication date in the newspaper of record is the exclusive means for calculating the comment period for this analysis. Those wishing to comment should not rely upon dates or timeframe information provided by any other source. Regulations prohibit extending the length of the comment period.
Only those who submit timely and specific written comments (36 CFR 218.2) regarding the proposed project or activity during a public comment period established by the responsible official are eligible to file an objection (36 CFR 218.24(b)(6)). For issues to be raised in objections, they must be based on previously submitted specific written comments regarding the proposed project or activity and attributed to the objector. For objection eligibility, each individual or representative from each entity submitting timely and specific written comments must either sign the comment or verify identity upon request.
Additionally, pursuant to 7 CFR 1.27(d), any person may request the agency to withhold a submission from the public record by showing how the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) permits such confidentiality. Persons requesting such confidentiality should be aware that, under the FOIA, confidentiality may be granted in only very limited circumstances, such as to protect trade secrets. The Forest Service will inform the requester of the agency’s decision regarding the request for confidentiality; where the request is denied, the agency will return the submission and notify the requester that the comments may be resubmitted with or without name and address within a specified number of days. Comments submitted anonymously will be considered in this proposal.
The preferred method for submitting comments is through the public participation portal on the project webpage: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=58618. To submit comments using the web form on the project webpage select “Comment on Project” under “Get Connected” on the right side of the project’s webpage.