Central MA

Mountain Bikers Deserve Access to the Ware River Watershed

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Mountain Bikers Meet with Senator Gobi, DCR and EEA Leaders to Discuss Access to the Ware River Watershed

On February 16, 2017, Senator Anne Gobi (5th Worcester District) arranged a meeting between NEMBA, a local mountain biker engaged with Ware River Watershed access issue, leadership from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) and Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EEA), and the Legislative Director for Representative Kimberly Ferguson.
At the meeting, Wachusett NEMBA Vice President Brett Russ and local rider Wilson Dobson urged the DCR and the EEA to take action to legitimize and allow shared-use passive recreation, including mountain biking, on the existing trails in the Ware River Watershed. Russ and Dobson also urged them to put a halt on the anti-mountain bike propaganda and misinformation being spread by officials in the Division of Water Supply Protection (DWSP) and Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA).
DCR Commissioner Leo Roy and EEA Assistant Secretary Dan Sieger affirmed that they supported increasing mountain bike access to the watershed. However, Commissioner Roy believes that this must be done through the review process of the next Public Access Plan. He wishes to accelerate the time table for the Public Access Plan so that it begins in the fall of 2017 instead of 2019.
Russ and Dobson expressed skepticism that this process would be fair and fact-based. They said that there is evidence that DWSP is already creating new maps of the watershed which dramatically increase the amount of buffer lands where many of the current trails are now located. The maps appear to go well beyond the legally established guidelines defined in the Watershed Protection Act and appear to be falsely fabricated with invented tributaries, impossible water connections, and arbitrary “protection zones”.  Russ and Dobson expressed concern that the DWSP was already engaged in planning the Public Access Plan in order to pre-determine the outcome of the process and re-affirm the ban on mountain biking and trails.
Senator Gobi urged DCR to start the public process in the spring or early summer instead of waiting until the fall. Commissioner Roy said that he would look into the details about how the public planning process will work, so that it can be fair, rational and based on fact and not prejudice.
Russ and Dobson commented that there are many in the larger mountain bike community who have lost patience about the lack of action to provide equitable access to the watershed.
Commissioner Roy asked if there were other DCR properties in the region where NEMBA could help develop trails for mountain biking. Russ described NEMBA’s proposal to DCR for an 8+mile trail system in Oakham State Forest. However, DCR only approved a one-mile trail. Another potential opportunity for new trails could be in Spencer State Forest.  Commissioner Roy said that he would review NEMBA’s Oakham Proposal and that he’d be willing to do a site visit to Spencer State Forest with NEMBA once the snow has melted.

Post Update: The Friends of the Ware River Watershed are asking people to support non-motorized trail access to the watershed. Add your name to this online petition on Change.org: Support Sustainable Trails in the Ware River Watershed.

More info on this issue and to read NEMBA's Proposal.

(Photo: Brett Russ, DCR Commissioner Leo Roy, Senator Anne Gobi and Wilson Dobson) Read more about Mountain Bikers Deserve Access to the Ware River Watershed

Mountain Biking not Harmful to Watershed Land

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Mountain biking not harmful to watershed land

Brett Russ
Vice President Wachusett Chapter New England Mountain Bike Association

MWRA Advisory Board Joe Favaloro’s recent fear-mongering propaganda in various media outlets (http://mwraadvisoryboard.com/concerns-over-mountain-biking/) portrays mountain bikers as destructive criminals who, if permitted to ride bicycles on trails in the vast watershed lands of central Massachusetts, would soon degrade Boston’s pristine water to that found in Flint, MI. The ignorance of his op-ed is equalled only by the hypocrisies of reality.

Living in central Massachusetts means being surrounded by more than 100,000 acres of watershed land owned by us, the Commonwealth’s citizens. This land is foremost the water supply for the residents in greater Boston but lucrative extraction of natural resources and some recreation are also allowed. There is constant logging in the watershed and it is easy to find evidence of oil spills, trash, deep muddy ruts, and extensive collateral damage to the remaining trees. There are bulldozed road drainage ditches into watershed wetlands, clear violations of laws. There’s evidence of toxic illegal dumping sites left for years along watershed roads near tributaries. A large and eroded gravel pit sits mere feet from water on a Quabbin peninsula.

Walkers, permitted nearly everywhere, let dogs swim in critical watershed intake zones. And powerboats are allowed on the Quabbin Reservoir among other watershed lakes.

Favaloro ignores all of this but speculates that mountain biking poses the greatest threat to water purity. Favaloro ignores the scientific literature that attests that the physical impacts of mountain biking are similar to that of hiking, even though the Department of Conservation & Recreation that oversees the Division of Water Supply Protection (DWSP) has reviewed and agrees with these conclusions. Favaloro, the MWRA, and the DWSP have no factual basis to make these claims.

Favaloro fears that allowing mountain biking is a slippery slope that could lead to allowing snowmobiles, horseback riding, and swimming. But he seems to be unaware that all of those activities are already permitted within the Ware River Watershed.. He suggests that mountain biking could spread to the Wachusett Reservoir Watershed, but doesn’t realize that there have been legal mountain bike trails there since 2001.

Overall, Mr Favaloro’s opinion, while widely publicized, is factually inaccurate and fails to consider the needs of area residents. That he is in a position of authority in our water management system is extremely concerning.

The DWSP is mandated to allow environmentally sustainable recreation to the Ware River Watershed and for decades mountain biking has co-existed on the more than 35-miles of trails there. During this time, the MWRA’s own reports indicate that water quality has increased, not decreased, and this fact alone highlights the error in Favaloro’s claims.. Mountain bikers are a responsible user-group that play an important role in stewarding trails and open spaces. Hiking, XC skiing, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and mountain biking should all be possible in the watershed; there’s no reason for just mountain biking to be excluded.

Local residents now feel that they are living in a police state. Trails used for decades by walkers, equestrians and cyclists have been closed to everyone by hundreds of signs and state cut trees. Hidden spy cameras abound. Watershed rangers photograph you and your license plate to look up your address and create a list of everyone on this public land. Keeping people off trails that have been in use for decades with no effect on water quality is suddenly the top priority despite 15 years of water quality reports never even identifying recreation as a cause of poor test results, much less mountain biking.

The DWSP should partner with the local residents to fix or close the trails that could erode and use factual analysis to allow shared non-motorized trail use. Together we could improve the recreational experience of all of local residents while at the same time ensuring that the resource is protected. This is what the New England Mountain Bike Association, the Friends of the Ware River Watershed, and I have offered from the start. But we’ve been soundly and repeatedly told to go away. One can only hope that fear-mongering and misinformation attacks will cease. That common sense will prevail and that we can all work together to achieve the goals of protecting this resource and the recreational experience of local residents.

Click this link for NEMBA's solutions to the issue of mountain biking on Ware River Watershed Land. Read more about Mountain Biking not Harmful to Watershed Land

NEMBA & DCR Partner to Open 15-mile Singletrack Trail Network at Dubuque State Forest

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

(HAWLEY, MASS.) – The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) announce a partnership to open a 15-mile network of single-track trails at Dubuque State Forest.
“Dubuque’s single-track trails wind through gorgeous and diverse woodlands and offer a variety of challenges, loops and scenic features that mountain bikers seek,” says Harold Green, President of the PV-NEMBA Chapter. “But these trails will also provide new opportunities for cross-country skiers, hikers and trail runners as well.”
Before approving this trail network, the DCR carefully assessed each trail to ensure that the network would protect important natural and culture resources, but also provide excellent recreational experiences to a variety of users. 
PV-NEMBA has agreed to organize volunteer trail maintenance and stewardship of the new trail system, help monitor against illegal trail building and work to educate trail users about etiquette and stewardship.
We are very excited about this partnership to expand recreational opportunities at Dubuque,” said DCR Commissioner, Leo P. Roy.  “We expect that this new trail network will draw users from both the Pioneer Valley and Berkshire County to Hawley, and we believe that excellent trail networks and recreation can have economic benefits to local communities and the region. “
DCR and NEMBA are currently working to install signs, create new on-line maps, and build some additional trail connections.

Wachusett NEMBA News, June 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

Ware River Watershed
In short, good discussions with key state officials continue and we are being heard. The concept of the Friends of the Ware River Watershed was presented to the Ware River Watershed Advisory Committee whose members were supportive of the idea as long as the group was comprised of multiple user groups and wasn't used for lobbying for MTB access. However, the DCR-DWSP itself would first need to agree to such a partnership and they have stated that the Friends group are enemies of the watershed because the majority of its members include mountain biking in their list of interests. The whole situation is very unfortunate, but the public should be aware of the high anti-bike and anti-trail enforcement ongoing in the area: hidden trail cameras, state police, environmental police, watershed and perhaps also parks rangers, and lots of signs and blocked trails. Other things are in progress so look forward to more news soon.
Treasure Valley
Much is happening over at Treasure Valley Scout Reservation on the subject of trails. The first ever trail building school was taught by The Trustees (of Reservations), Wachusett NEMBA, and Team BUMS MTB Club with sponsorship from Downtown Putnam Cyclery (in Putnam, CT). The full day program exposed attendees to a wide variety of knowledge including concepts and techniques for building sustainable trails, tools and safety, bridging do's and don'ts, and field visits to various trail sites within camp.
The trail school was followed a week later with the St. Johns High School annual volunteer day at Treasure Valley. A total of 18 students helped out with trail related projects. 12 of them worked on bench cutting a trail that last year's crew began building and the other 6 worked on brush removal along an abandoned lakeside trail in camp.
Also in the works is a brand new map of all the roads and trails within camp. The project involves Quantum GIS, a free software package that is very powerful but also has a steep learning curve. Trails and roads are categorized based on their status, maintenance level, width, and more. Each segment of trail or road between intersections is tracked independently so eventually a user will be able to piece together a route comprised of any chain of segments.
Finally, a separate trails effort is underway to mark and cleanup a number of trails within the core area of camp for use during the summer Boy Scout camp program. These trails provide connectivity between camp sites and key destinations within camp and have seen some neglect over the years. It's nice to see so much interest lately in trails within Treasure Valley!
Leominster State Forest
Members of Wachusett NEMBA participated in DCR Park Serve Day in LSF on April 30th. We repaired broken boardwalks, cleared fallen trees from the trails, and installed non-slip mesh to the surfaces of the boardwalks in Spooky Forest. It's great to see this kind of collaborative relationship with DCR MassParks.

NEMBA Presents Ware River Watershed Proposal to EOEEA

Friday, December 18, 2015

NEMBA Presents Ware River Watershed Proposal to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

Boston, MA, December 18, 2015:  Representatives from the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) met with the leadership of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) to discuss mountain bike access to the Ware River Watershed in central Massachusetts.

Wachusett NEMBA has formally requested that mountain biking be allowed on certain singletrack trails in the watershed and that the state collaborate with NEMBA and a newly formed Friends of the Ware River Watershed group on an independent analysis of the trail network.

According to Wachusett NEMBA’s Brett Russ, “we are grateful to Secretary Matthew Beaton, Undersecretary Ned Bartlett, Assistant Secretary Daniel Sieger, Director of Legislative Affairs Stolle Singleton as well as Senator Brownsberger, and Senator Anne Gobi’s aide John McNamara for taking the time to hear about the issues facing the citizens surrounding the 25,000-acre watershed. We believe that NEMBA’s proposal for greater access will be a win-win for everyone involved.”

The watershed has 35+ miles of singletrack trails that have been used by all manner of non-motorized recreationists including hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, hunters, fishermen, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers for decades. Mountain biking on singletrack was prohibited in 1994 under the management of the Metropolitan District Commission but was not enforced until August 2014.

“We believe that by partnering with NEMBA and allowing mountain biking in the watershed, we’ll be able to help steward the property and further protect the water supply”, says NEMBA executive director Philip Keyes.

While only a handful of singletrack trails are shown on the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) - Division of Water Supply Protection’s official maps, most of the singletracks have existed for decades. However, there are some new, unsanctioned trails that were built without permission which are of legitimate concern. However, rather than crack down on the activity of mountain biking, NEMBA proposes that the DCR partner with the organization to evaluate the existing trail system to determine which trails are sustainable and pose no threat to the water quality.

“We think that legitimizing mountain biking in the watershed will allow us to harness the energy of the recreating public to help protect this critical natural resource. Our members can help educate other trail users, report issues such as illegal trail building, dumping, and partying, and work to create a multi-user trails community that can maintain and protect the trails”, says Brett Russ. NEMBA hopes to partner with the newly formed Friends of the Ware River Watershed to build a broad community of trail stewards.

NEMBA is now in the process of providing more information to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, and will continue to seek support to review and implement NEMBA’s proposal.

NEMBA will be planning an open meeting to discuss the proposal mid-January, 2016.

Link to NEMBA's Ware River Watershed Proposal (PDF)

In the photo, left to right, Bill Boles, Brett Russ, Secretary Matthew Beaton, Adam Glick, and Philip Keyes

Central MA

North Quabbin Trails Association

131 W Main Street
Orange  Massachusetts  01364
United States



The North Quabbin Trails Association is located in the historic hills and river basins of north central Massachusetts We have many miles of newly connected trails and would like to extend a unique and educational opportunity to NEMBA members.

NQTA is a Trail Design & Development, Stewardship and Hiking non-profit organization dedicated to collaboration. It seeks to bring together the entire outdoor trail community for the betterment of the North Quabbin Region.

Our core mission is the creation of the Quabbin to Monadnock Trail (Q&M), a 200+ mile East – West Forest Legacy Loop Trail with 12-15 overnight shelters. The West side is the N.E. Scenic Trail. The East side is a series of preexisting trail systems connected together.

Many miles of trails are available now. NQTA is constantly engaged in creating new trails for outdoor enthusiasts and looks forward to sharing that information with trail users both near and far. Stewardship opportunities and hikes are posted on the website, many of which unveil new trails. The offices of NQTA and monthly gatherings are held at the Millers River Environmental Center in Orange, MA.

NQTA is in the final mapping, gps and gis tracking of the Q + M trail and is working with naturalist guide book author John Burk on a 150 page Q + M trail map and guide which will be completed within a year.

Of interest to NEMBA members is the re-branding of our uniquely beautiful N Quabbin region into 7 geographical zones.

These are the Monadnocks, The Tully Basin, The Millers Basin, The Swift Valley Basin, The Quabbin, The State Forests and Mount Grace / Northfield.

This is the corridor of the Q + M and it’s an amazing connection of water, hills and forests.

NEMBA members are invited to come, enjoy a section and then return to complete other sections at their convenience.

This directly ties into the 'Stay and Play' theme that NQTA has established with its Explore North Quabbin partners. Imagine a 2-3 day adventure were you can stay at some of our lodgings, with great places nearby to eat and shop.

NQTA welcomes NEMBA in for jamborees and will work closely to help with logistics.

In addition NQTA would like to offer NEMBA a unique stewardship and mapping opportunity.

Starting right now we’d like NEMBA members to join with us out in bettering these newly connected trails. As the leading mountain bike and stewardship organization NQTA would like to see NEMBA and its members act as partners. We need your input on trail conditions. Most importantly we’d like your assistance in setting up a grading system to rank the level of difficulty of our trail systems.

NQTA's first full length trail map and guide of Birch Hill / Lake Dennison is in publication and offers many miles of biking opportunities. The map is set up to highlight multi-use and mountain biking is an integral part with biking trails clearly marked.

This map and many others can be ordered on our website NQTA.ORG for $8.00.

Now for the more adventurous bikers is the new 16.3 mile Red Apple Trail System. The grand opening was held May 16th and it’s this intermediate trail system that NQTA would like to collaborate with NEMBA on.  So come out and start the evaluation and stewardship process. Or, just go explore. Contact me for more information.

NQTA as a mapping organization has over a dozen new trail maps available as part of our $20.00 / $35.00 family membership.

NQTA at its core is organized as a stewardship and mapping collaboration and we actively seek NEMBA's partnership and experience in helping to create these new trail systems.

Our headquarters are at the Orange Innovation Center, 131 W Main Street Orange, MA 01364.

We have our monthly Gathering the second Monday of every month. We have a great meal and normally have educational speakers.

We would welcome a team of NEMBA members to join us as guest speakers to educate NQTA members on your organization and the great stewardship work you have accomplished.

I sincerely hope to see you out on the trails, soon.

You can contact me personally via email at . Please visit our 2 websites, NQTA.org and explorenorthquabbin.com to have better understanding of what NQTA has happening.

Upward and Onward!

Bobby Curley
NQTA President
and ENQ Co Chair

  Read more about North Quabbin Trails Association

Local Shops

Northampton Bicycle

Metrowest MA

Central MA

Southern New England Trunkline Trail

131 Grove St
Franklin  Massachusetts  02038
United States


There are many places to access the SNETT - See the maps








The Southern New England Trunkline Trail is a National Scenic Recreational Trail that runs from Franklin Massachusetts 86 Miles to Willimantic Connecticut. The Massachusetts portion is a linier park managed by the Department of Conservation and Recrretion.

This write-up concerms the Massachusetts portion starting in Franklin and ending near the Connecticut line in the Douglas State Forest.

Few people will ever ride the entire 22 miles. But, many people ride parts of it, using it to connect good riding areas.

The trail itself is straight, very flat but has many whoop-de-dos caused by off road vehicle use. It's very scenic and beloved by area equestrians. 

On the eastern end you have the trail dense Franklin State Forest.

On the western end in the Douglas State Forest there's an alternate staring area at 108 Wallum Lake Road where the SNETT crosses the road.

 From this point if you continue west you'll hit the Connecticut state line. Of particular interest is the Tri State Marker. A stone monolith that marks the intersection of RI, CT and MA. Ride around it and you'll hit three states in a second or two.  Where else can you do that? Read more about Southern New England Trunkline Trail

Local Shops

Blackstone Bicycles

Legend Bicycles

Steve The Bike Guy

Links to Relevant Resources

What Up (and Down) in Charlemont

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

If you haven't been riding in Charlemont, MA, next summer is the time to go.  

"The Recreation Capitol of New England" as Charlemont calls itself, is a wonderland of views, maple syrup, flannel shirts, grass fed beef cows, zip lining, rafting, kayaking, down hill skiing, snow tubing, and now, mountain biking.  In this quaint New England town nestled in between two mountain ridges in the Berkshires of Western Mass, the mountain bike scene is exploding as you read this. Three hubs of single-track, Warfield House, Zoar Outdoor, and Berkshire East, provide mountain bikers with a total of 35 miles of single track plus endless dirt and farm roads,  double tracks, and snowmobile trails. The town is bisected by the Deerfield River, Route 2, and a rail road.  A short road ride connects the riding hubs, with Berkshire East on the south side of the valley, and Zoar Outdoor and Warfield House on the north.

Building began in earnest about four or five years ago, when Jonathan , 'Jonny' Schaefer of Berkshire East Ski Resort, Bruce Lessels, owner of Zoar Outdoor (an outdoor adventure, outfitter, rafting and lodging company) and Harold Green, past president of NEMBA, were having a few beers at Warfield House and the idea to bring mountain biking to Charlemont in a big way was hatched.

The latest addition to the scene are down hill, one way, lift accessed trails being built at Berkshire East Ski Resort. Schaefer, manager of Berkshire East, and mountain bike rider says.  " We want to continue enjoyment of the outdoors year round. That's the way my brothers and I were brought up."   A progression of green to difficult black diamond trails are in the works.

Determined to do this the right way, Schaefer consulted with his insurance agent who recommended Gravity Logic, an international gravity trail building and resort-consulting firm based in Whistler BC.  Planning began in 2009, and lift serviced trails are scheduled to be open in 2015.  Jonathan Schaefer sees Berkshire East and the town of Charlemont as a center of activity for the many bicycling disciplines, from road rides, to gravel grinders, mountain bike races and other bicycling events.  Having the lift access trails as well as the numerous cross country trails already in place creates a great venue for enduro races (races which don't time the uphill, only the downhill sections), endurance rides such as the Whole Enchilada Ride, a 30 mile mountain bike ride touring both sides of the valley, and other mountain bike races and events. Berkshire East has the potential to meet the requirements for World Cup mountain biking events, something very few east coast resorts have.

Jon continued," We are committed to being a dynamic year round family destination and resort."  A paid trail crew is in the plan for the future and that crew may be working on the cross country as well as the down hill mountain bike trails.

"The easiest lift access trail is designed and built for first time down hill mountain bikers as young as 7 years old, and will be fun for more experienced and skilled riders as well." explained Gabe Porter -Henry, marketing manager of Berkshire East and another flannel clad employee of Berkshire East.    "High end mountain bikes, guided tours, and lessons will be available also."

Out on the trail following the whirring noise of the chainsaw, Chris Conrad, project manager for the crew from Gravity Logic, was clearing corridor for the 3 ½ mile green trail.  Originally from North Carolina, and an avid mountain biker, he headed to Colorado for his ' soul ride' and while riding found a job at a ski area building trail and eventually went to work for Gravity Logic.   "The first trail to open will be the green trail, wide (4 feet wide), with low grades of 5-7½ %, good sight lines through the turns, and low berm walls. Gravity Logic has guidelines for the trail designations that have been tested through experience.  The powder blue (novice/intermediate) trail will be 2 or 2 ½ miles long, with rollers, and is machine made also.  A true blue trail with tighter turns, bigger and steeper berms is in the plans.  The black diamond trail has a steeper average grade with some fall line on ledge and more technical features such as jumps and drops.  It will be a single track and mostly hand built."

Conrad explained the design process, " We meet with the client, look at topos, identify wet areas or other areas of concern, and for the green trails and machine built trails, access is very important. You want the green trail to start very near the top of the lift."  To cross downhill ski trails, the trail needs to be flat and straight. Out west, berms and other features can be constructed in ski trails due to a higher snow pack.

Further down the green trail, past a beautifully constructed wide berm with grade reversals to manage water and to control the speed of the rider, Kerry, another Gravity Logic employee, was running a full sized excavator across a couple of hundred feet of fractured rock.  A few days ago, the jack hammers crushed a swath of ledge into a manageable pile of rock.   Kerry is from out west, and this is the first time he has experienced the challenges of building trail in the east, but he was very enthusiastic about the opportunity to build here.  As trail builders in the  north east know, rocks are a blessing and curse.  

While the new down hill trails are in progress, building also continues on the cross country network, Charlemont Trail System or CTS.  Two miles of beginner trail, Bear Cub, leave from Berkshire East parking lot. Turns are being polished and new connections are being built so making it possible to stay on single track and avoid double tracks.  Also two blue cross country trails were built in the last year, Farmstead and MST, near the top of the Berkshire East side. Harold Green, a former president of NEMBA, is now leading the work on polishing turns, benching off camber sections, and putting boardwalks on wet areas.  Also with more riders, the trails are becoming smoother and a bit easier to ride. But don't be fooled, these trails will kick the butt of even advanced riders!  For those who enjoy climbing, the trails in the ski area property will be open to ride to the top of the mountain with a pass.

Over the past four years, Harold brought the resources of NEMBA into play.  Under the auspices of NEMBA, CTS has been awarded an RTP grant to build boardwalks on the Rice Brook Trail in the Warfield hub, has sponsored a NEMBA trail school, and provided a tool crib.  The second edition of the CTS map has been published and is available at Zoar Outdoor and Berkshire East.  Information, led rides and event listings are also available on the CTS Facebook page. Harold is, " excited to have more people riding in the community." He is also looking forward to having more events, possibly a weekend festival with races and rides sometime in 2015.

Bruce Lessels, owner of Zoar Outdoor, says, "right now, the trails appeal to a certain type of rider. One who is very fit and doesn't mind rough trails and climbing. However, the new blue and green trails at Berkshire East will appeal to the intermediate riders, and we are looking for more places to put trails that will be good for a wider range of abilities." MIT recently had an intercollegiate mountain biking race with many different events such as short track and double slalom. A number of the racers stayed at the Zoar Outdoor campground. Some of the bike trails lead right from the campground.  "The single tracks at Zoar were originally offshoots of cross country ski trails." Bruce continues, " There was only a trickle of mountain bikers, but it is becoming a steady stream. "

Riding the trails in the Charlemont can be a challenge, but the rewards are well worth the effort.  Riders pop out of the forest to see views of farms, the valley below and surrounding hill tops.  Following trails with the names of General Hospital and Get Smart, the rider will find an abandoned TV tower, purchased by the town in 1960's because there was no TV reception in the valley.    Or skip the climb, and park on East Road (a dirt road behind Berkshire East) and ride to check out the 227 ft wind turbine and the 1800 solar panels which provide 100% of the electricity for the ski resort and then some.

This is truly a unique area. The trails are pure New England with a taste of Whistler. Have fun exploring the ups and downs of Charlemont, and don't forget your extra tube, a  snack, and a sense of adventure.  You'll need it!

Berkshire East Mountain Resort
Zoar Outdoor
Charlemont Trail System

By Paula Burton (SingleTracks #137)

Finding Solutions and Improving Mountain Biking in the Ware Watershed

Friday, October 3, 2014

On September 25th, 2014 Director Jonathan Yeo of the DCR Department of Water Supply Protection and some of his staff met with members of Wachusett Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) and NEMBA staffers, Philip Keyes and Bill Boles, to discuss recreational issues facing the Ware River Watershed.  Also in attendance was Dick O’Brien, chair of the Massachusetts Recreational Trails Advisory Board (MARTAB). Mr. Yeo expressed serious concerns over the presence of mountain bikes on non-designated trails as well as the creation of additional unauthorized trails.

Currently, the Ware River Watershed is home to many singletrack trails adding up to at least 20 total miles. However, only three of those trails (the Midstate Trail and two trails dedicated to horseback riding) are recognized by the DWSP. For the last 30 years, residents have been mountain biking on this trail network without realizing this activity has always been banned. Bicycling is only allowed on roads and rail trails. Hikers, on the other hand, are permitted to walk anywhere they choose throughout the Ware River Watershed regardless of the presence of a trail.

NEMBA offered to provide solutions to curb unauthorized trail building and riding by working with the agency to create a legitimate and sustainable trail system for mountain biking, hiking, trail running and XC skiing, but this offer was firmly declined by Director Yeo. Instead, the Division says that it plans to dismantle all unauthorized trails and increase enforcement of the bicycle ban. NEMBA feels that the best course of action here would be to recognize bicycles as a valid trail user and work with, rather than against, those aligned with the agency's mission of maintaining the highest possible water quality. The presence or absence of bicycles on trails has not impacted water quality in the past 30 years and, with sustainably designed trails, would not do so in the future either.

NEMBA believes that the DCR DWSP should allow trail based recreational opportunities for all non-motorized recreation. Existing trails should be reviewed for environmental sustainability and passive recreation (which includes mountain biking) should be promoted and pro-actively managed in cooperation with dedicated user/service groups such as NEMBA. The 25,000 acre Watershed is critical habitat for the water supply of 2.5 million ratepayers, primarily in Greater Boston, but it is also an important open space that should offer meaningful public benefit to all tax-payers, and especially for the communities in which the watershed is situated.

Mountain biking and hiking have similar environmental impacts and should be managed together. There are numerous studies attesting to the similarity of physical impact between hiking and biking -- and there are no studies which state that hiking has no impact or that the impacts of mountain biking are dramatically different than hiking. The recreational analysis done by DCR in the Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the Middlesex Fells Reservation states that "with respect to these two recreational impacts, these two recreational uses have similar impacts and should be evaluated similarly."

NEMBA believes that providing singletrack opportunities for mountain biking would be beneficial to the local communities who are looking for places to recreate. The current policy unjustly excludes mountain biking on trails as a legitimate activity in the watershed, and the lack of authorized trails for hiking and mountain biking have created a recreational vacuum that is currently being fulfilled by creating unauthorized trails. We feel strongly that by working with NEMBA and our dedicated volunteer base, DWSP can actually improve Ware Watershed water quality further by fixing or closing current unsustainable trails and providing new trails that are properly designed and built away from sensitive areas.

Finally, State Representative Anne Gobi met with NEMBA representatives on October 2, 2014 and offered her full support for NEMBA's efforts. We look forward to working together with our elected officials as we improve the situation we currently face in the Watershed.

NEMBA asks the mountain bike community surrounding the Ware watershed to respect the current regulations and on only ride on trails where bicycling is allowed.

Ware Watershed & Mountain Biking

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Members of Wachusett NEMBA will be meeting with Department of Conservation & Recreation land management for the Ware River watershed to discuss issues relating to mountain biking on this property. Mountain bikers have ridden on the many trails within the Watershed for years without issue nor impact to the drinking water supply. However, the DCR Watershed has decided to enforce a long standing ban on bicycles from all woods trails. Hikers, dog-walkers and equestrians have access to many of the trails but mountain bikers are completely excluded.

NEMBA believes that the DCR Division of Water Supply Protection should change the recreational use policies at the watershed to include mountain biking, as well as other forms of passive, sustainable recreation.

The Ware River Watershed abuts Rutland State Park, a small 200+ acre parkland that allows mountain biking.