The U.S. Forest Service has just released their environmental assessment and invites the public to submit comments by December 19th.
The environmental assessment includes multiple alternatives, which range from zero to 51.6 miles of trails. Alternative 2 (full build, 51.6 miles of trails) would give mountain bikers the best riding experience and presents the best chance to reduce crowding and conflict on other trails. However, compromise is required when accounting for other factors such as ecological and resource impacts; of the other alternatives presented, Alternative 6 (27.5 miles of trails) offers a reasonable range of trail styles and mitigates many concerns.
VOICE YOUR SUPPORT!
Please help by voicing your support for the Lemon Gulch project!
- Learn about the project: watch this Youtube video, visit Ochoco Trails website, check out the Forest Service website.
- Submit your comment letter. Comments are due December 19. A template letter is provided here; however, a personalized letter will carry more weight.
- Tell your friends! Lemon Gulch is on federal land and every American’s voice matters. We need thousands of letters to demonstrate the broad support for this project.
This short Youtube video is a great introduction to the project. Visit the COTA website or the Ochoco Trails coalition website for more information on the project, why we find it important, and how you can help.
The Forest Service’s environmental assessment can be found on the USFS website here, labeled “2022 November Lemon Gulch Trails Draft EA – Comment Period.” Supporting documents are also available for review.
The Lemon Gulch trails would offer enormous advantages for outdoor enthusiasts and the community of Prineville. The terrain of the Ochoco National Forest offers technical, rocky, and steep features for mountain bikers not found elsewhere in Central Oregon. Lemon Gulch is close to town, making travel plans easy for local and visiting riders.
The Lemon Gulch trail system would be constrained to just 3,000 acres of the 850,000-acre Ochoco National Forest (0.35%). A range of trail difficulty levels are accounted for; therefore, families and friends with different preferences and skill levels can all enjoy riding there.
Increased use in the Ochoco National Forest is a completely predictable future. Trail conflict and crowding will be a certainty in the near term if additional trail opportunities are not implemented soon. The work of Ochoco Trails represents years of dedicated planning and collaboration that has led to a proposal that can solve these issues. Mountain bikers are clearly a fast growing segment of users in the Ochocos; by creating this network of trails in an already heavily-used area close to town we can maintain the wild and rugged nature of more remote areas in the Ochocos.
Crook County and Prineville will also benefit enormously, from both economic and health perspectives. Having a trail network much closer to town means easier access for local families to get out and enjoy the forest, which will lead to a healthier population. Mountain biking has also been shown to add a significant boost to local rural economies. The evidence shows in Oakridge (population 3,300), mountain bikers spend $2.4-$4.9 million every year, yet Oakridge has kept its small town character and sense of community. Prineville is in a perfect position to gain the advantages that tourism brings without detracting from the small town lifestyle that residents enjoy.
The mountain bike population is only going to continue to increase. An important part of keeping recreation on our shared public lands sustainable is planning now for increased future use so it can be managed appropriately, while minimizing environmental impacts.
Please voice your support for Lemon Gulch as we prepare for the future shredders!