Ride Vibes: Respect the Land
—Guest blog by Sue Rawley, Mountain Bike Association of Arizona Membership Director
Nearly every American is familiar with the Grand Canyon. When most people think of the Grand Canyon, they think of the crown jewel of our National Park Service, Grand Canyon National Park. While the National Park Service manages over 1.2 million acres on the South and North Rims, there are an additional 1.7 million acres of federal land in dire need of protection, most notably from new mining claims but also from other proposed areas of development. This current lack of protection will only continue to devastate the resources we have come to appreciate in the greater Grand Canyon area. It’s imperative that we ask the Obama Administration to protect these resources with the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act.
I have been riding mountain bikes for more than 20 years and remember all too well what it was like when we had very few trails open to mountain bikes. As the outgoing membership director for the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona, I never stop worrying about trail access and advocacy. As a resident of northern Arizona and as a neighbor to the greater Grand Canyon area, I believe protecting our treasured cultural, ecological and recreational resources is of major importance to the quality of our lives in northern Arizona. And, as a coach of an interscholastic mountain bike team, I believe we have a responsibility to teach our youth to enjoy and appreciate the outdoors and to advocate for natural and recreational resources.
Despite an 8-hour drive to the North Rim from my home in Flagstaff, it remains one of my favorite destinations within the state of Arizona. I have camped and hiked many times on the North Rim and have ridden the entire Rainbow Rim trail and part of the Arizona National Scenic Trail. This past summer I spent two days working on a trail project with the International Mountain Biking Association to extend the Rainbow Rim trail another half mile. Every time I visit the remote North Rim area of the Kaibab National Forest, I am amazed and awestruck at its beauty.
The North Rim provides a very different experience than the traditional South Rim experience within Grand Canyon National Park. The national park is filled with tourists shuttling from one viewpoint to the next and, while the views are sublime, many of us seek a different experience. We enjoy the incredible solitude on the North Rim, often accessing amazing viewpoints under our own power, with just our boots or tires on the trail. These recreational opportunities are priceless and deserve protection for those who cherish the experience.
I want to continue to enjoy all the the greater Grand Canyon area has to offer and I want our future generations to enjoy it as well, without the threat of mining or other development.
Please consider sending a letter of support to President Obama before the end of the year.