The City of Flagstaff Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Events (PROSE) has released its revised Draft Greater Observatory Mesa Trail Plan. The original Draft was put on hold and greatly revised into its current iteration, available here https://www.flagstaff.az.gov/3284/Flagstaff-Community-Forum?cf_url=https%3A%2F%2Fcommunityfeedback.opengov.com%2Fportals%2Fflagstaffaz%2FIssue_12892#peak_democracy .
—Please take this survey!
FBO will be sending a comment letter, but it might not be ready until just before the deadline. Although it might seem easier to copy-paste content from our letter, a letter written in your voice and from your perspective will carry far more weight and impact, especially because this is a local process. (Letters with copy-paste language are often counted as a single comment in processes such as this.)
Some tips for your letter:
· Be polite.
· Be clear.
· Don’t worry about getting into the weeds about laws or process.
· Emphasize your experiences as a rider, and how this plan will affect you.
Generally the plan is a big positive for the trail community as it will add trails and improve the quality of trails on Observatory Mesa. That noted, the plan has some opportunities that need to be included and strongly supported.
Directional Bike Trails
In the last round of commenting, on the first draft, FBO advocated for the inclusion of some directional mountain bike trails. These are now included in this draft. Please make clear in comments or survey responses that you support this! Directional bike trails address a long unmet need for many riders in Flagstaff. Providing specific opportunities for this provides exciting opportunities for kids to get outside, helps to mitigate trail-user conflict and discourages unauthorized trail construction. Even if you aren’t interested in such opportunities yourself, having these types of trails available is a great recreational asset that benefits everyone.
Flagstaff Biking Organizations is in favor of opportunities for people to responsibly recreate on e-bikes on trails, including potentially re-designating some suitable routes to permit e-bikes to be used legally. Whether you support or oppose e-bike use, they are here to stay and we favor embracing a proactive management strategy for these bikes over pretending they don’t exist.
For details about our position on this subject, please click here: https://flagstaffbiking.org/mountain/flagstaff-biking-organizations-position-on-e-bikes-on-non-motorized-trails/
The City and its consultant have left e-bikes out of the draft, although they have included a single question on this subject in their survey. If you support e-bikes (Class 1 or 2) being permitted on at least some non-motorized trails in the greater Flagstaff area, Observatory Mesa needs to permit e-bike use! This is the best opportunity to forward this effort through your written comments.
Because the USFS has nationally designated e-bikes as motorized vehicles, it will be extremely challenging for the Coconino NF and/or Flagstaff Ranger District to re-designate any currently non-motorized routes to legally allow e-bikes to use them. Parts of Observatory Mesa will be managed by the City of Flagstaff under a Special Use Permit from the Coconino National Forest, and they can permit e-bike use under that permit far more easily than it would be for the Forest to re-designate currently non-motorized trails. This project can then act as a demonstration project to which the USFS can refer when eventually analyzing the suitability of e-bikes for other routes. Without this project, the Coconino NF/Flagstaff Ranger District will be less apt to permit e-bike use on any currently non-motorized routes in the foreseeable future.
In summary, this is a really phenomenal project and will add some great trails opportunities to the open space immediately adjacent to Flagstaff! Kudos to the City of Flagstaff – PROSE and Southwest Decision Resources for their efforts!