By CHRIS COLLORD
A small but vocal group has created a petition to oppose the development of a bike skills park and multi-use trail in Pueblo Canyon, and even force the tabling of all future discussions of trail building in Pueblo Canyon.
View the final proposal here: Final Proposal.
Even though the petition is signed by only 125 people in a town of 15,000 (<1%), these types of tactics are difficult for County Councilors to ignore. People who enjoy Los Alamos trails and would like to see them maintained and expanded (which, I think, is by far the majority of the people in town) typically don’t show up to Council meetings to support them, so Council members are often left to hear from the very, very few who oppose changes and improvements.
That has to change now. We need to let the Councilors know that the majority of people in this town support our local trails and would like to see improvements and additions to them.
Many of the arguments of the anti-trails group are so specious that it’s difficult to even begin to dissect them, and are clearly contradicted by the facts in the presentation linked above.
I’ve outlined some of these contradictions below.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Write your councilors. Tell them why you support the skills park and trail improvements. Tell them that you live here and that this vocal minority does not represent our town. Explain to them why the petitioners’ arguments are wrong [see below for ideas].
- Show up to the County Council meeting in person. Show your support for Los Alamos trails. The vocal minority will be there … and you need to be there, too!
Some examples of how the petition got it wrong:
- Degradation of Open Space Areas:
- Deforestation is not outlined in the plan and seems to mostly be conjecture or misunderstanding, but would seem to be extremely limited based on the map and the extensive use of existing trails. Professionally built trails (as this trail would be) take into account for water drainage and do not increase erosion or create soil disturbances.
- Disturbance of wildlife species
- There are already trails and roads through these areas that see regular traffic, as well as a sewage treatment plant. The skills park area (option #1) is located close to a main road, an apartment complex, housing, and the High School. Skills park area #2 is located on the site of an old waste treatment plant near a neighborhood. These are not pristine areas. They are very much “in town” and were chosen specifically for that reason.
- The county has already identified sensitive wildlife zones and the maps clearly show that none of the proposals interfere with salamander, spotted owl, or other sensitive habitat (see page 13 on presentation).
- Native American Cultural sites
- Again, this seems to be conjecture or misunderstanding. There are no planned changes to cultural heritage sites. There is already a road, several trails, and a sewage treatment plant in this canyon, and the “new” trail will largely be an expansion of these existing trails (see page 30 of presentation).
- Expenditure of funds
- The funds for this project were allocated more than 5 years ago specifically for trail creation and improvement. The funds cannot be re-allocated for other projects.
- Displacement of current area of users of all ages
- All users are able to use these trails. The skills park (both options #1 and #2) are located in an unused portion of county land where no one will be displaced.
- “Attractive Nuisance” areas with increased litter, graffiti, noise, etc.
- Specious argument at best, not worth addressing.
- Development, at taxpayer expense, of amenities that serve a narrow user group.
- Funds were allocated more than 5 years ago and have always been earmarked for trail improvements. Trails would be multi-user and therefore a benefit to ALL user groups. The skills park is no different in scope than the golf course, disc golf course, skating rink, horse stables, or any other recreation area in town that is used by a small percentage of people. Opposing the skills park because it benefits bikers would be tantamount to opposing the horse stables because it only benefits horse owners, or the golf course because it only benefits golfers. We all live in this town together and we all benefit when others in our community benefit.
I know that everyone would rather be out biking than attending a Council meeting, but we need a big turnout of enthusiastic trail users to show this group that they are a minority and that we are excited about seeing improvements to our trail systems. These improvements benefit a HUGE portion of the community. Let’s show some support!