"The US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have proposed the creation of a 50,000-acre wilderness area in the West Hermosa Creek area. This wilderness designation would close part of the Colorado Trail and at least six other popular trails to mountain biking.

Local riders are proposing a common sense solution that would protect both natural resources and bicycle access ... The deadline for comments has been extended to April 11, 2008. ... San Juan Plan Revision, P.O. Box 162909, Sacramento, CA 95816-2909. ... Mark Stiles, Forest Service Supervisor, Public Lands Center, 15 Burnett Ct., 81301."

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Dear San Juan Plan Revision Star Chamber Members,

The trails that would be closed to bikes under the proposed plan for the West Hermosa area are some damn fine mountain biking trails. Great even. In the trail guide I wrote in 2001-02 I called the Durango area the best in the world for mountain biking. This was high praise, especially from a guy who hasn't ridden a mountain bike anywhere outside the US! Ever! But anyway. You ride trails like the trails on the chopping block here and you don't need to ride any other trails.

Given my obvious love of riding bikes on these trails, and my having written a book about them and all that, you'll probably guess that I'll come out against the plan to Wilderness-ize West Hermosa. But to be honest I'm not so sure. Having been away from Durango for a few years, I won't pretend to understand the specific conditions on the trails these days. Maybe the mountain bikers are really screwing things up. I'm certainly willing to concede that it may be best if cycling were banned in the area, and I have supported efforts to add wilderness in the past in other parts of the state. These issues can be complicated and touchy, and it could be that there are no easy answers. Mountain bikers shouldn't expect to get everything they want all the time -- sacrifices must be made in the interest of the public good as well as the forest. All we can ask is that you be consistent in your reasoning.

I know that cyclists have some impact, especially as their numbers increase. It's undeniable. Obvious, in some cases. And I know the same could be said for hikers. Throw anyone into the forest on a trail and it will have an impact. And, since I've been around the mountain a few times, I know very well that a human on a horse has far more impact than a human on a bike or a human on foot. And yet the horses, often led in trains and loaded with the makings of a large hunting camp, are always allowed in where the bikes are banned. And it seems to me that the whole discussion is cattle-driven over the cliff of absurdity because all the public forests and many of the trails in the area have been trampled hard-core style by privately-owned herds of livestock, and no doubt will continue to be.

So it seems to me that some compromise is in order. Good luck making your decision.