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Comments Needed for New River Gorge National River EA

For Immediate Release 2-3-2010

Photo: Riding an existing trail in the New River Gorge. Image by Leslie Kehmeier. See more of Leslie's photos from the New River Gorge.

The National Park Service (NPS) recently announced that the Environmental Assessment (EA) for developing hiking and biking trails in West Virginia's New River Gorge National River is now available for public review and comment.

Please visit the NPS website to record your comments.

The NPS is also looking for public input during an open house event, scheduled for Feb. 10, between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, located off U.S. Route 19, just north of the New River Gorge Bridge.

The EA analyzes the potential impacts of constructing new trails and of allowing bicycle use on the newly constructed trails and select existing trails and administrative roads within New River Gorge National River. The documents identifies three alternative approaches to the proposed trail system.

IMBA joins the NPS in favoring Preferred Alternative B. Under Alternative B new trails would be built, and linked to existing routes, to create a stacked-loop trail system. This would create an exciting, destination-worthy mountain biking area with many benefits for regional mountain bikers and the local economy.

Please find below some suggested talking points to use in your commentary. Rather than repeat them verbatim, please state these principles in your own words on the NPS commentary form.

  • Preferred Alternative B would create a great trail system.
  • Biking and hiking are compatible uses, especially on well-designed trails.
  • The impacts of mountain biking on the natural landscape are about the same as those caused by hiking.
  • The expanded mountain biking opportunities created by Preferred Alternative B would enhance the park's recreational opportunities.
  • Mountain bikers will come the New River Gorge National River to ride these trails, heightening economic activity in the surrounding communities.
  • If you have specific knowledge of the trails identified in Preferred Alternative B, please include your insights as to why these trails are well suited for a shared-use trail system.

Review your comments and make sure that you've tried to address the four questions posed by the NPS on the EA commentary home page.

Finally, stay tuned to IMBA's website for updates on the public process associated with creating this trail system.