Here are the points to copy and paste to email to the Forest Service (with your own edits too)
Dear Prescott National Forest,
I am very pleased with the partnership between PMBA, PNF and COP, which has led to hundreds of miles of multi-use trails in the greater Prescott area – thanks to everyone for their hard work!
I am excited to see this proposal for the development of 17-miles of gravity-style, mountain bike-optimized trails in the Bean Peaks area, many of which will be bike only, and/or single direction. These types of trails do not currently exist in the Prescott area, nor is there a network of this length and diversity of mountain bike optimized trails in Arizona. These trails will offer healthy recreation opportunities for riders of all ages. It’s important that these trails were professionally planned by IMBA in June 2020, with input from PMBA, COP and PNF. This will result in many of the national and international best-practices for bike-optimized trails being put into place in this system.
I feel that these trails will be very popular with local riders, especially as they offer a different experience than previously exists – for example there will be one purpose built, single-direction climbing trail of approximately 3-miles, which will make for an enjoyable ascent through the Bean Peaks. This climbing trail will lead to several ‘trail hubs’, each with a series of single-direction descending trails, for different skill levels. The descending trails will all lead back to a base area, where riders can then access the climbing trail again. These trails will include technical rock features and in-sloped turns and will be sustainably built to include lots of flow-features, which are missing on many of the existing Prescott trails. Gravity trails are exceptionally popular with mountain bikers and although busy, the fact that they are one-direction and bike-optimized means that they don’t feel congested – riders are all going the same direction on any given trail and complete multiple laps.
I also feel that these trails will attract mountain bike visitors to Prescott for the same reasons. The fact that there is an existing campground next to the proposed trails will be a valuable asset for visitors, as will the COP day-use area at Goldwater Lakes. Visitors to Prescott support the local economy through spending their dollars in town, supporting restaurants and breweries, bike and outdoor equipment shops, hotels, and lots of other local businesses. These mountain bike visitors are more than welcome in town! I have also observed a growing population in Prescott, with many educated professionals with young families moving to town – this is a good thing. A growing population increases the use and demand for trails. Gravity mountain bike trails are a contemporary and appealing form of recreation, which will serve, retain and indeed attract this demographic.
I believe that this proposal assists the PNF in meeting its objectives of providing a diverse set of trail opportunities that offers differing levels of difficulty. I understand that the Bean Peaks area has recently received wildfire mitigation treatment, which resulted in clearing many trees and brush from the area. This wildfire mitigation work has created a great opportunity to locate the gravity trails here. Many well spaced trees have been left standing, resulting in a sunny, open canopy, which still offers plenty of shade, whilst also creating safe sight-lines for riders on the trails. The area is also crossed with a network of non-system trails, some of which may negatively impact other natural resources – for example creating sediment which erodes into local seasonal streams. The closure and eradication of these non-system trails and the development of a sustainable, purpose built system can only result in improved conditions all around.
I understand that the proposal includes the closure of the existing White Spar parking area. A new, larger parking lot and trailhead will be built further back from Route 89, closer to the bottom of Trail 396, adjacent to the camping area, with additional parking directly at the base of the Bean Peaks. These new parking areas will be essential in order to accommodate more users at the Bean Peaks Gravity Trails.
I agree that this proposal should be considered under the Decision Memo / Categorical Exclusion analysis type within NEPA. Extensive surveys were completed before and during the wildfire mitigation process, therefore I consider that a Decision Memo / Categorical Exclusion is an appropriate level of permitting in this case.
To summarize – I fully support this proposal to develop mountain bike-optimized gravity flow trails in the Bean Peaks area of PNF. The trails will be a great addition to the Prescott area. There currently isn’t a network of this type of trail in Prescott, nor elsewhere in Arizona and I’m excited that it’s happening in Prescott. Local riders of all ages and abilities will enjoy the trails and will be able to access them frequently given their location. Visiting riders will be attracted to Prescott to ride the trails, and there is extensive infrastructure already in place to accommodate them (parking, camping, hotels and motels, etc.). These visitors and new residents are more than welcome and will support local businesses. Mountain biking is a fast-growing activity, which appeals to children, families and riders of all ages. If trails are correctly designed and built, then they are low impact on-the-ground, healthy for all participants, and good for local economies. I encourage the PNF to approve this project and to sign-off on it’s approval in summer 2022.