BLM has no designated motor-free hiking trails in the Pryors. (The Forest Service has just one - less than two miles.) BLM’s proposed Travel Plan designates only a couple dozen miles of interesting motor-free trails. Unfortunately, BLM may open many of these new trails to mountain bikes.
Brett French’s article “Appraising the Pryors” (The Billings Gazette, Jan. 26) reports BLM discussed “one-way trails” and trimming vegetation “to improve sight lines” to reduce speeding bike collisions. Wouldn’t it make more sense to designate quiet and peaceful trails limited to foot traffic — without hazards of racing mountain bikes? There are already over 200 miles of mountain bikes routes in the Pryors. I’ve ridden several. But there are places bikes don’t belong.
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BLM staff suggested one proposed three-mile trail “seemed an unlikely mountain bike route because of its length... Six to 12 miles is closer to the distance that cyclists are looking for.” Does BLM think that only trails too short for mountain biking should be proposed for quiet walking? Hikers and equestrians like longer trails, too.
To her credit, Jenny Alexander, BLM outdoor recreation planner, noted the Acton Recreation Area “used to be pretty quiet” but has turned into a popular downhill mountain biking area since bike trails were built. It’s fun riding bikes downhill fast. But BLM should avoid this fate for quiet trails in the Pryors by designating mountain bike-free trails. As Alexander said, people go to the Pryors “for the solitude and to get away from the crowds.”
Susan W. Newell