Forest Service seeks halt to illegal bike trails in Lake Tahoe |

Forest Service seeks halt to illegal bike trails in Lake Tahoe

LAKE TAHOE and#8212; The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit is appealing to area mountain bikers to work with the agency on trail creation, rather than constructing illegal trails on public lands, according to a forest service press release issued Wednesday.

New user-constructed mountain bike trails are appearing all over the Lake Tahoe Basin, the forest service said, causing safety concerns, as well as damage to natural and historical resources.

“Forest Service trail crews have located and rehabbed a number of user-created trails in the last few months, and individuals have received notices of violation for constructing trails without a permit,” the press release reads. “This Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 6 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Trail builders can also be held responsible for the costs of rehabbing their damage.”

and#8220;When the Forest Service designs and builds trails, we certainly think about making them fun and challenging for riders, but we also consider rider experience, sound construction of features, emergency access, environmental sustainability and protection of historical resources,and#8221; said LTBMU Forest Engineer Mike Gabor. and#8220;Mountain bikers who would like to help build better trails can work for the Forest Service on our trails crew, volunteer with us or the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, or consider forming a new organization to advocate for local mountain bike trails.and#8221;

Riders venturing out on unpermitted trails have no idea of the level of difficulty they will encounter, the press release reads, unlike system trails, which are designed with a consistent degree of challenge throughout the trail and with consideration for easier options.

“Jumps and other features are constructed incorrectly and of improper materials, such as white fir,” the release reads. “Unpermitted trails often lack bypasses that will permit a rider to skip a freeride feature that’s beyond their skill level.

In addition to unpermitted new trails, alteration of system trails with features that are more difficult than the official rating is another concern, the forest service said.

For example, users recently constructed a jump on a section of trail in South Lake Tahoe that was inconsistent with the speed and features on that section of trail. Forest Service crews removed the feature.

and#8220;We’re very concerned for the safety of unsuspecting bikers using these unpermitted trails,and#8221; said Forest Service law enforcement officer Laura Clarke. and#8220;In one incident earlier this summer, a mountain biker riding an illegal trail on Kingsbury Grade crashed on a jump and was airlifted out with head and spinal injuries. Because unpermitted trails do not appear on maps and builders have not planned for emergency access, injured riders risk not receiving timely medical attention because they can’t be located or are inaccessible.and#8221;

Whether on urban lots or in the general forest, illegal trails cause erosion and water quality concerns and damage vegetation and wildlife habitat, the forest service said.

and#8220;We’re seeing illegal trails built right through sensitive stream environment zones and archaeological sites,and#8221; said LTBMU Forest Supervisor Terri Marceron. and#8220;Public lands belong to all of us, and the decision to build new trails needs to be made with participation from all.and#8221;

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