I understand this is a land use issue, but those of us in the area who have wheeled there for many years may feel more inclined to do something about it.
Read page 30 and take a look at the schedule on page 43.
They will close all access roads off of 33 from reading that proposal. It will also limit access into the National Forest if the city and county goes forth with the proposed plan.
Most of GWNF is part of the US Forest Service.
However, there is a part of it that we all consider part of the forest that is actually owned by the city. That is part of the Dry River (Dry Run on the maps) section of trails. More specifically the area that we know as Salt Shed (which includes the mud pit known as the Bathtub) is owned by the city. Think it's pretty much once you cross the river that it becomes part of the National Forest.
With Kephart closed down (the good parts), this has become the most popular trail in the area. The mud pit is being abused and the area is being ruined with trash. Some people even think of the area as a "do whatever you want" kind of place, because it is not under control of the USFS. As I understand it, the city does nothing to patrol that area.
The city considers Dry River as part of it's water supply, and obviously would think of the area surrounding it (what they own) as affecting it. That's why it is currently being targeted for closure.
Paul Provencher has been a leading advocate for the Dry River Ranger District working in conjunction with VA4WDA's Land Use rep for awhile now.
His thoughts from a GWNF listserv:
Originally Posted by ppro1
Don't get me wrong -it's a beautiful area and I really enjoy driving out there. But right now the city doesn't have the means to operate it as a park and provide the kind of management that would enable a healthy balance of use and protection. Maybe it's time for us to build a schedule (24 hours x 7 days a week) of volunteers that would be willing to operate gates and patrol the trails to enforce the rules? That's what the city is up against. That would be a solution they'd love to see. I can take the 1pm - 4pm slot on the third Saturday in August 2009. Problem solved! (NOT!)
When you were there where did you go? Up by Switzer Dam? Down by the Reservoir? The rocky river bed for a short stretch is actually the trail to the reservoir that gets flooded by the stream - technically OK to drive. Elsewhere the riverbed is NOT trail and of course as we know, NOT OK to drive. I received stern correction from the city enforcement on that so I have learned. I was happy not to drive in the stream anyway as it generally wasn't worth the little bit of fun balanced against the risk of ingesting water in one way or another.
Farther east down the stream in the woods where the trail loops back on itself is a huge trash field created by groups not associated with hunting or ORGANIZED OHV groups that represents the problem they're trying to address.
Their problem is difficult - how do you gate access and limit access only to responsible users and keep the riff-raff out? We know there are ways but they cost money and require an enforcement presence. All these cities are up against budgetary constraints and so seek the path of least cost/biggest effect.
I agree that simply gating it and running spot checks is not likely to substantially keep out the riff-raff (gates are fairly meaningless) but it will reduce traffic enough that the constituents will feel SOMETHING is being done.
If it is your drinking water, and you had seen all the different areas and forms of abuse, I am not sure you'd support leaving it open under current conditions.
Here is a link to map for those interested with waypoints of the areas, (also from Paul): Skidmore Fork/Dry Run
The newspaper article:
If we do not get involved now don't think we are going down there again. Spread the word and lets make this happen.
To participate in the discussion: GWNF group