Tipton Urges Forest Service to Allow Mountain Bikes on New Trail Segment near Gunnison and Crested Butte
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) expressed concerns over the Forest Service plan to preclude mountain bikes from sharing a new segment of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, despite allowing hiking and horseback riding on the trail.
In a letter to Forest Service District Rangers Jim Pitts and John Murphy, Tipton commended the Forest Service for moving forward with the new trail and expanding opportunities for visitors to fully experience the area, but questioned the Forest Service’s reasoning behind their preferred alternative to preclude mountain biking.
“The Forest Service action to develop a new segment of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail shows that the Forest Service understands the importance of these high quality experiences, and I fully support the development of this single-track route. I have some concerns, however, about the preferred alternative to preclude mountain bikes from sharing in this experience,” Tipton wrote. “I am primarily troubled by the Forest Service’s preference to exclude bicycles on this new trail. Mountain biking is a very valuable component of the recreation economy – a bedrock of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. This segment of trail, while remote, is close enough to Gunnison and Crested Butte, areas recognized as mountain biking destinations, that it could be a great addition to existing resources. For precisely the same reasons that this segment will improve the hiking and horseback riding experiences on the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, I see no reasonable justification in the Forest Service’s Environmental Assessment that gives me reason to believe that excluding mountain bikers is necessary.”
With regard to increasing transparency in the public comment process Tipton noted that, “There are potential user groups across Colorado and around the country who would be greatly interested in the planning process. To that end, I believe that the path the Forest Service takes will have regional impacts, if not national, and accordingly, it would have been helpful to publish the notice in additional publications such as The Denver Post or the Federal Register.”
Tipton said that including mountain bike access on the trail could benefit local businesses by giving tourists another reason to visit the area.
“I fully support allowing mountain bikes on this new segment of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and encourage the Forest Service to engage with all stakeholders promptly to resolve any issues. This trail will provide an additional recreation resource to local, regional and national residents to recreate within Colorado’s Third Congressional District, which will help drive additional tourism to the region, which supports local businesses.”