For those wondering about the "Reiter Plan" here's the old thread that has some back-and-forth and what the meeting was like last time:
Here is some DNR website info with the plan as a downloadable PDF:
Reiter Foothills Recreation Plan
I don't know what things will be presented at this new meeting being held tomorrow. Whether they have responded to comments by the public or are simply publically announcing the final plan. I don't know.
We've been wheel'n Reiter for decades but it's been a no-mans-land that hasn't been officially managed and the trails criss-cross land owned by 4-6 different land owners including the DNR, another state agency and I thinks some federal land, plus some timber companies.
The total land area these trails cover is 4,000 acres.
The DNR has identified a total of 10,000 acres that make up what they are terming "Reiter Foothills". That is the public land the DNR will be managing.
What the DNR has so far proposed it to limit 4x4's to 1,000 acres. In other words, they want to shut down 75% of the acreage that has been traditionally used by the motorized community.
DNR's Big Concerns
There are a number of things that are of concern to the DNR. Top among them are:
- Keeping streams from silting up and harming salmon (i.e. no water crossings, erosion issues, muddy runoff, etc.)
- Preserving water quality for the town of Index (much of the 4x4 trails in certain areas sit atop the "recharge zone" for Index's aquafir)
- Preventing destruction of trees. . . . which are a resource DNR sells to provide funds to public schools (state mandate)
There are others but it boils down to this. With these key DNR priorities in mind they are trying to figure out how to balance competing interestests and uses for:
Big Picture vs. Little Picture
- Motorized access (ATV, 4x4, Motorcycle)
- Horseback riding
- Mountain biking
- Other non-motorized uses
It's a little tough because while they are trying to divide up Reiter and give everybody a little slice it's like they're not looking at the "big picture." The little picture they are looking at is ONLY what land the DNR has and manages. For instance. . . how close is the next hiking area on DNR land? How close is the next mountain bike riding area on DNR land, etc.
What I and most other people look at (I think) is a much broader area . . . For instance. ADJACENT to Reiter is a 106,000+ acres of land that was JUST designated as Federal Wilderness area. You can't horseback ride there, or mountain bike, let alone take your vehicle there. . . but you can most certainly hike there.
So, with 106,000 acres of hikable land available RIGHT next to Reiter, why are we looking to carve up some of Reiter's 10,000 acres for hiking trails?
I don't want to necessarily exclude different user groups but let us realistically look at total available recreational opportunities (DNR, State Parks, Forest Service, etc.) and see how close they are located to Reiter. There are TONS of hiking places all over the place, no? But there are VERY LIMITED motorized vehicle places. The closest ones for 4x4s are Walker up near Mt Vernon (run by DNR) and Evan's Creek (run by the Forest Service) And these are about 2.5 hrs travel time apart.
Appropriate Uses And Areas And Shifting Trails
The DNR has identified areas that are suitable for various uses based on slope, run off, erosion concerns, and expected trail wear and tear. A big chunk of the existing trail areas fall in the "usable" area for 4x4s. Yet they're designating new area that currently doesn't have any trails as the new 4x4 area (also designated as suitable for 4x4 use). Rather than all this reshuffling of trails why not snip off some areas that are more problematic and add areas that are ok?
In the DNR's draft plan in one of the appendexes I believe is this chart showing the various user groups frequenting Reiter:
By far, most people visity go there for motorcycling, 4x4ing, ATVing, and Camping with a decent-but-still minor showing for Hiking and other uses. Yet the plan was calling for shutting down 75% of present motorized trail acreage.
Also, a side note, I think the motorized user groups can be acting at cross-purposes to one another. I noticed at the meeting the motorcycle guys arguing that THEIR trails should be left open because they are narrower (~18") and a 250 lb. bike causes less impact than an ATV or Jeep.
While technically accurate, this struck me as a short sighted line of reasoning. The more people that enjoy these motorized trails the greater support the areas will have. By not giving a rats behind to the ATV and 4x4 crowd they're significantly cutting down support for their own trails.
Why are they doing this?
The motorcycle riders complain that the Jeeps and 4x4s end up crowding onto their nice single track trails. And that over time they widen, get rutted up, and basically less usable to a motorcycle rider. Which, frankly, I can't argue with this. I've seen it happen. What this means is that WE need to make sure we stick to Jeep and 4x4 trails ONLY. Otherwise we piss off an otherwise sypathetic user group to our cause.
This is yet another reason why it's important to "stick to the trail".
There's a bunch of weird stuff like that happening in the draft plan.
As I say, if you can, PLEASE show up and lend your voice. . .