Usually, when we hear about trail vandalism, there’s some intent to harm involved, by hanging a trip wire, or putting a log in the middle of a trail, or something to outright disrupt a mountain biker’s movement down the trail.
“Several large rocks on the Moore Fun Trail, which had been strategically placed by the trail crew to improve trail sustainability, have been removed, resulting in dangerous trail conditions,” BLM Public Affairs Specialist Eric Coulter told the Daily Sentinel.
While these fairly routine maintenance operations make trails less susceptible to erosion and keep them in better order, it seems that there are some out there who would rather not have the trail teams in place.
BLM Ranger Mike Jones added to the Sentinel’s article, “Anytime we do trail maintenance, it ends up being pretty controversial. You’d think trail maintenance is pretty straightforward and easy, but people think you’re dumbing down the trails…”
To get a further understanding of the rock migration, we reached out to the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA) and asked them a few questions.
“The destruction of trail work done by both COPMOBA and other volunteer groups has been something that we have unfortunately experienced a number of times in the valley,” says COPMOBA member and co-owner of the Fruita pizzeria, Hot Tomato.
Keller says that she hopes the damage was exclusive to the Moore Fun trail, but hasn’t had a chance to examine other trails in the network. She believes that there is a disconnect in the community, and that it seems like some riders are taking the trail construction into their own hands, and swiftly.
COPMOBA says they have tried to be proactive about announcing trail maintenance projects and getting the word out, but the projects continue to be dismantled.
“I think how it feels to me is that an attitude in the valley has been allowed to develop where difficult trails or difficult sections of trail have been viewed as these sort of sacred cows immune to the needs of maintenance. There was another section built by a youth core crew in Grand Junction that was destroyed within 24 hours.” Keller added that this may in fact be because the location of the work was in fact well publicized.
“I think it could be a bit of a failure on our part as a trails community in our less frequent attention to difficult trails in light of easier trails generally seeing more use, and therefore needing more obvious maintenance.”
This also comes at a time when the trails are used more and more by tourists, requiring more maintenance due to sensitive soils and landscape in the desert.
So, not only is COPMOBA tasked with repairing the damaged sections of trail and maintaining the highly used sections of trail, now they have one other job, if there are in fact rogue trail dismantlers: Get them on the same page and make them understand the needs of routine trail maintenance and structure.
“Hopefully the end result of examining this is that we can find ways to both foster better care and attention to all of our trails,” says Keller. “And also come up with a collective agreement that the folks involved in the destruction will agree to cease doing so and instead add their voices to the mix in a productive manner.”