//Trail Status mouse over Java // Ft. Harrison trail gates will not be used

Author Topic: Ft. Harrison trail gates will not be used  (Read 179 times)

Jasonkuehn

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Ft. Harrison trail gates will not be used
« on: July 09, 2019, 01:50:46 PM »

I wanted to share a conversation I had with you guys since I saw the gate praise on here. I was also thrilled to see gates put in place earlier this year to help prevent trail damage. However, according to the ranger they will not be using them in any logical or useful way.


I went to ride recently, maybe two weeks ago. I didn't have a lot of time so I did not check the trail condition online like I usually do before leaving. I realized this as I pulled in but thought "oh well, if it's bad the gates will be closed and I'll just go back home." It had been sunny for a few days and I had just enough time to get a quick ride in. Thankfully the gates were open, so I went riding.


The trail was an absolute disaster. Between all the hikers and bikers using it during our recent monsoon, there were mud pits everywhere. I mean, the trail was getting totally demolished. I ended up walking my bike most of the way and got off the trail as soon as I had an opportunity (camp glenn lot to lawrence creek lot).


On the way out I stopped at the gate to tell the ranger how bad it was and that they needed to shut the gates. I said I would have done it but they were all padlocked. She said she knew it was bad, but that the park had made a decision that they were "only going to close and open the gates once per year." This would only be for the winter and would not be based on trail conditions.


I said that was ridiculous and totally defeated the purpose of having gates. There were plenty of winter days where the trail was good to ride but the gates would be closed yet the gates would be open when the trail was unusable and officially closed. She said she understood that and fielded lots of calls all winter from angry people asking why the gates were down. I asked if she realized how much work would be required to fix the current trail damage. She said she does a lot of trail maintenance in brown country and understood but there was nothing she could do about it.


She then claimed closing the gates was determined to be a "safety issue" because they "wouldn't be able to get to someone if they got hurt." This was also absurd in my opinion because one, you can walk around the gate if you wanted, and two, it's not like they're going to be driving a truck down the trail to get someone. She shrugged and I got back in my truck to head home.


Though I've been a hmba/imba supporter for a long time I've not been involved with the group and do not know if HMBA had anything to do with getting these gates installed. But if they did, I am hoping that someone out there has some pull to get this issue resolved. I try to be very responsible with my riding and when I saw open gates I assumed that meant the trail was good to ride. I'm sure there will be many others making the same assumption.


Using the gates in the way they say they will use them is worse than not having gates at all.

Paul_Arlinghaus

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Re: Ft. Harrison trail gates will not be used
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2019, 01:31:09 PM »
Here is the back story.  Last year the Department of Nature Preserved created a document critical of the conditions of the Lawrence Creek Trail.  They went out in the spring of 2018 in a wet time of the year and took pictures of mud holes and trail widening, where riders and hikers where going off trail to get around the mud.  There was a meeting with State Parks, Nature Preserves, and HMBA.  HMBA pointed out that it is very difficult to maintain a dirt surface trail when trail users are using the trail in muddy conditions. 

State Parks committed to installing gates and closing the trails when needed to protect the natural resources.  The gates were installed late winter/early spring and the trails where closed in April.  April was very wet so the trails were closed most of April. but with the trails closed our volunteers were able to get a lot of great work done. 

The trails dried up for a couple days in early May and the trails were reopened.  But then it started raining again and rained most of May and much of June.  We asked for the gates to be closed and were told that State Parks did not want to close them any more. 

Jason Hilt and I begged the local park manger.  I spoke to the Deputy Parks Director and even emailed the Director of the DNR.  We have not made any progress working within the DNR. 

While we have had a pretty good dry spell and the trails are mostly ok, there are still mud holes long and the drainage is messed up throughout the trail system.  So the next time it rains, the trails will hold water for longer than most trail users will expect. The trails will get heavy use when muddy, creating more trail damage.
Our volunteers at Fort Harrison are really being treated poorly.  There hard work this spring was largely undo by not closing the trails when needed.  As a result, our volunteers turn out is declining.  This makes it even harder to maintain the trails.  But why work at a trail where your work isn't appropriated or protected.  Many of the regular volunteers have shifted efforts to Town Run and Brown County State Park. 

The HMBA board is meeting this week. We will discuss next steps. We may need the help of the mountain bike community.


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