May 11th, 2004, 03:21 PM
i just read in yesterday's paper (front page news!) that wednesday "all Tyler Mill users will have a chance to plead their case to the Parks Department in a special meeting" does anyone konw what time and where theis "special meeting" is going to to take place? i think it is mostly focused on the race that is held there, but if they cancel the race, i'm sure all mt. bike access is next on the agenda...
May 11th, 2004, 03:41 PM
I will be speaking to the committee as mountain bike advocate. Gary Velardi will be speaking as race advocate. We both are going to addres the concerns other user groups have. I will be speaking about the positive role mountain bikers have.
I thought that this was a "closed-door" meeting, but please don't let me discourage you from participating. Below is a peice written by someone who isn't familiar with the impace of mountain bikers. My response follows.
A healthy respect for nature
Community commentary for May 5 by Marty Moore
As am a member of the Wallingford Conservation Commission, I thank for your lead editorial ("A gift to share," Record-Journal, 5-3-04) concerning sanctioned mountain bike races at Tyler Mill in Wallingford on what you properly call "pristine land." Your commentary helps focus public attention on the dilemma facing guardians of this unique 1,400 acres of land, and the meeting to discuss this situation on May 12.
First, the problem: Over the past several years, the simple trail system in Tyler Mill has been greatly expanded and continues to grow. These new trails now criss-cross what you correctly call a "rare . . . large continuous tract of pristine land." The result is to turn the property into a checkerboard of small pieces of land unsuitable for the breeding territory needed for many kinds of birds and animals, and of course for plants and wildflowers.
The trails are cut indiscriminately through sensitive ecological areas such as vernal pools, marshes and riverbanks of the Muddy River, to name a few. The trails become rutted rapidly, especially on the many hillsides, and rapidly erode into gullies of muddy water during rain storms, much of which drains ultimately into the river.
The result is a degraded environment in what is properly considered to be a town and regional treasure. Unfortunately, it keeps getting worse. For anyone even casually familiar with the area, the overwhelming problem is mountain bikes.
Irresponsible riders who (I have no doubt these make up a small minority) have arrived in droves since 1993 when the races were inaugurated. They come not just for the races, but on virtually ever day that the snow isn't too deep. Internet postings and the extensive publicity for the races have people coming year-round from a multi-state area.
The irresponsible few keep seeking thrills exploring the "pristine" by forging new trails oblivious, ignorant, or callous to the environmental harm they are doing. And it keeps getting worse.
An essentially bipartisan effort in Wallingford, with welcome help from the state, has made a substantial, far-sighted investment into preserving key environmental areas, and more remains to be done before the developers control every last acre in town.
Now, it is equally important that we make sure the heritage of some pristine land for all generations to enjoy is not despoiled by the few. (As an aside, I note that Mayor Bill Dickinson personally put up signs in Tyler Mill asking that no new trails be cut. They were promptly torn down.)
I would like to address some of the R-J's editorial observations and conclusions regarding this issue. First, you say it is "hard to single out any group of users for the problem." You need a little more work on that presumption. You claim horses and hikers might also damage the trails. Believe me, the havoc wrought in Tyler Mill has nothing to do with the horses and people who walk the trails. They have been doing that for centuries., with no adverse effect.
It's the daily hundreds, and cumulatively thousands, of mountain bikes with knobby tires, and their riders who cut new trails, that are the problem.
Next you cite "one of the cycling enthusiasts" who claims the damage is done by all-terrain vehicles. First of all, ATV's are already illegal in Tyler Mill, as they are in virtually all parkland throughout Connecticut. The ATV problem is real, but it is primarily limited to a few neighbors with ATV's who insist on venturing into Tyler Mill — a problem which the mayor and the police are trying to address.
Finally, you pull on your ideological hat and say that environmentalists who are dismayed with this problem in Tyler Mill really just want to ban outsiders, and should be more "enlightened." I would hope that it doesn't have to come to a ban on mountain bikes in Tyler Mill such as the ban imposed at Sleeping Giant State Park.
What is happing in Tyler Mill should be above newspaper ideology, or politics or town rivalries. Tyler Mill is open to all, from anywhere. For all of these people and the pristine environment they enjoy, it should not be allowed to be degraded and destroyed by the few.
Marty Moore is a member of the Wallingford Conservation Commission.
Community commentary, May 11 by Anthony E. Parent
With regard to a guest column headlined "A healthy respect for nature" written by Marty Moore (Record-Journal, May 5): as acting president of the Wallingford Mountain Bike Association (WMBA), and a life-long user the area, I wish to respond to his observations on Tyler Mill.
Mr. Moore is certainly correct when he says that there is an incoherent mess of unauthorized trails throughout Tyler Mill. Many of these trails need to be closed or rerouted. I would go further and state that a more cogent system of trails, designed to lessen the impact of traffic, need to be blazed. I would use the West Woods trail system in Guilford as a model. Environmentally sensitive areas are avoided; the trails are built more rugged to stand up to use.
But I disagree with Mr. Moore's assertion that "it's the daily hundreds and cumulatively thousands, of mountain bikers with knobby tires, and their riders who cut new trails, that are the problem." However, my own observations indicate illegal trail-building is not confined to mountain bikers. I know that unauthorized trails have been blazed by hikers and ATV users, as well. Every user group has its bad apples.
Mr. Moore also diminishes the problem of illegal ATV use. From my own observations, nearly every trail in Tyler Mill has been defiled by ATV's. I have witnessed the deterioration of trails caused by ATV's over the past fifteen years. In fact, I rode my mountain bike the day Mr. Moore's article was published. Recent ATV damage to the trails was readily apparent. I noticed the most damage near the area where Tyler's Mill once stood; as an ATV rider tried to get around a fallen log, but couldn't, so he made a "donut" to turn around, which caused great damage to the surrounding foliage. The continued menace of ATV's is severe and should not be diminished by placing blame on mountain bikers (especially when it is the same mountain bikers who have performed a substantial proportion of trail maintenance in the area).
Mr. Moore also argues that horses and hikers do not cause any damage to the area. But this is highly unlikely, as everyone makes an impact. The situation at Sleeping Giant and on the Appalachian Trail illustrates this point: Rangers and trail volunteers spend entirely too much time trying to brush-in the short-cuts hikers make and closing illegal trails.
Mr. Moore believes that prior to the advent of mountain biking at the Tyler Mill, the area was pristine. This is hardly the case. Illegal activities were once rampant in the area, as there were very few eyes to patrol what was going on. The area has lost its allure for illicit activities, because with their year-round presence, mountain bikers create an effective deterrent. Those looking to dump trash, poach wildlife, use drugs, and indulge their promiscuity know to take it elsewhere, as there is a good chance a mountain biker, or other user, will spot them. Also, mountain bikers, like myself, have removed (on numerous occasions) both litter and bulky refuse from the area.
Despite these differences between Mr. Moore and me, there is some very good news. Mr. Moore closes with "Tyler Mill is open to all, from anywhere . . . it should not be allowed to be degraded and destroyed by the few." I could not agree more. I am confident that this is common ground shared by the vast majority of Wallingford residents and officials. Our group looks forward to protecting an improving Tyler Mill for the benefit of all.
Anthony E. Parent is an attorney in Wallingford and is the acting President of the Wallingford Mountain Bike Association (WMBA). Those interested in joining WMBA are invited to call Attorney Parent at 269-6699 or email him at email@example.com
I hope this helps you out. Also there is a WMBA ride tonight LEAVING at 6 pm
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