Kelly Northcutt: Does your vote matter?
In 2013, 71.1% of our community voted to fund the development of a multi-use trail network, as described in the Trails Alliance Proposal. The overwhelmingly-approved proposal contains far more trails than are actually being considered in the “Mad Rabbit” project. Anyone stating that 2A trail funding was intended only for the Yampa River Core Trail is incorrect.
Six years later, we have finally identified the most important trails from the proposal and gradually started building them. Sadly, even these trails are at risk of losing funding and not getting built.
Special interest groups are threatening lawsuits and cherry-picking studies in an attempt to stop the entire process. Worse, Steamboat Springs City Council just appointed to the 2A trails steering committee a member of a group that openly opposes the Mad Rabbit trails — an incredible conflict of interest.
The frustration in our community is palpable. The amount of misinformation is insurmountable, and it seems like some have forgotten the purpose of 2A — to invest in recreational facilities, primarily a diverse trail network, to attract visitors to town.
Please remember the following:
1) The “Mad Rabbit” is not a mountain bike project. Although there are bike-only trails proposed, nearly everything built with 2A trail funds is multi-use. The few bike-specific trails not only benefit one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, but they also make the other trails safer and more enjoyable for all trail users. The continued use of 2A trail funds for the remaining proposed trails will serve the economic, environmental and physical health of our community.
2) Regarding the bike-specific trails, we need to think of the next generation of trail users — those who are just getting their wheels under them and those that are already better riders than most of us. Would it make sense to build a ski resort with only blue runs? Would you travel there for your family vacation? The proposed diversity of the Mad Rabbit trails will actually meet both the community need and attract visitors.
3) Above all, trails are the solution, not the problem. The NEPA process uses science, facts and data to properly plan trails to protect resources and wildlife. Trails help wildlife by avoiding sensitive habitats and keeping humans on a predictable path. The effects of human population growth will be much more damaging to the forest without a well-planned, sustainable trail system in place.
If our decision-makers hamstring this project, they are telling us that your vote did not matter. Please remind council and 2A to respect the will of the voters.
Routt County Riders executive director
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