It was mid-January and Crested Butte was in the midst of a dry spell. Snow had not fallen for at least a couple of weeks and although snow was bountiful, the quality of it was lacking.
But, the skis were blue, the morning was crisp, and the snow sparkled invitingly. So, I headed out to Gothic Road to enjoy cross-country skiing with my family who was visiting from Ohio. We found the trail to be in very poor shape, with deep grooves from cross-country ski travel, crossed over by footprints from walkers, another track crossing over both of those from fat-bikers. This multi-use trail was beat up. And I wondered, why don’t we see grooming here? It would create a better user experience for everyone!
Improvement of user experience in heavily traveled shared use areas such as the Gothic corridor is one of the main reasons why we support the recent winter grooming proposal of the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA). The proposal is aimed toward increasing trail access for fat bikers, but much of the proposal can improve experiences for all winter user groups.
In-Line with the Mission of Share the Slate
Share the Slate’s Mission is to “protect winter access and promote the shared interests of all user groups within the public lands of Gunnison County”. Fat bikers are a fast-growing winter user group in our community, and we must work to help their voice be heard. Share the Slate supports CBMBA’s winter grooming proposal because it supports the heart of our mission.
CBMBA’s grooming proposal also supports deeper aspects of our mission:
- Share the Slate strives to reduce user-conflicts. CBMBA’s proposal suggests a multi-use track for compacted areas such as Cement Creek Road and Slate River Road. For these areas, they plan on grooming a lane specific to classic nordic skiing alongside a lane for other user groups like snowmobiles and fat bikers. This lane management, when used properly, can help to reduce user conflicts as well as improve the experiences of all winter enthusiasts.
- Share the Slate strives to educate various winter user groups on etiquette and how to coexist together. CBMBA also wishes to do the same. We will work with CBMBA to develop trail etiquette and strategies to educate both the community and visitors about winter shared use areas. This education will improve user experiences for all.
- Share the Slate and CBMBA both wish to improve signage at trailheads to educate user groups. Both organizations will collaborate to accomplish this goal.
CBMBA’s proposal is largely in-line with our mission and goals at Share the Slate. Furthermore, the proposal encourages collaboration among our organizations.
Good for the Community
The grooming proposal from CBMBA is also largely beneficial to our community. Their proposal will:
- Generate expanded recreation opportunities for our community as well as visitors.
- Improve opportunities for winter tourism that can benefit local businesses.
- Allow for more consistent recreation opportunities because heavily used areas will be in better shape.
Furthermore, with the fast growth of this new sport the Crested Butte Community has struggled with conflicts between the Nordic Center and fat biking users. Creating more areas on our public lands where fat-bike users can recreate should help alleviate this conflict.
Join Us In Supporting CBMBA’s Winter Grooming Proposal
Share the Slate hopes that you will join us in supporting CBMBA’s winter grooming proposal too. Here are ways you can take action to join us in our support:
- Write a letter to the Forest Service explaining why you support CBMBA’s grooming proposal. We have provided a draft for you as well as Forest Service contact information. The Forest Service is accepting public comments on this matter beginning Oct. 20th and ending Nov. 18th. You’ll find a copy of the news release for the comment period below.
- Join our social networks on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Share our content that supports CBMBA.
- Join our e-mail list for important updates for how you can help take action.
If all who support Share the Slate took just a few minutes to do just a couple of these things, we could all make a huge impact!
Below you’ll find some valuable resources relating to CBMBA’s winter grooming proposal.
- Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association, Winter: https://crestedbuttemountainbike.com/fat-bike/
- CBMBA’s PowerPoint for winter grooming: https://crestedbuttemountainbike.com/cbmba-proposed-winter-grooming-plan/
- CBMBA’s Fact Sheet about their winter grooming proposal: https://crestedbuttemountainbike.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/FB_Grooming-Support-Facts_Info.pdf
- Crested Butte News – CBMBA Proposes to make Fat Bike Paradise: http://crestedbuttenews.com/2016/09/cbmba-proposing-to-make-a-fat-bike-paradise/