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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Gallatin National forest initiated a public comment on June 9. We just found out about it. They are planning to ban bicycles from the Lionshead area in the Henry Mountains. This area was an oversight in the travel plan that was completed in 2006. Because the Henry Mountains are in a proposed RWA, and the Region One mandate is to ban bikes in RWAs, they are having this comment to gauge the public response. We will need literally thousands of comments in favor of retaining bikes there just to get their attention, let alone change their minds.

The Lionshead Area contains two key trails for bicyclists. First is a critical section of the CDT. Second is the corridor of trails leading to Coffin and Sheep Lakes.

When the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance formulates a list of talking points soon, I will post them here in this thread. Following is the Forest Service announcement.

File Code: 1950-1
Date: June 9, 2008


Dear Friends of the Gallatin National Forest:
In December of 2006, the Forest Service (Gallatin National Forest) published a decision for a Forest Travel Management Plan. In that decision [Record of Decision (ROD), page 55], we indicated that we believed that mountain bikes should be prohibited on trails within the Lionhead recommended wilderness area but withheld making that decision at the time because the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) did not present an alternative for public comment that would have precluded mountain bikes in this area. While this oversight was corrected by modifying Alternative 6 in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), we did not believe that it would be appropriate to make a decision to prohibit mountain bikes without first providing a public comment opportunity. Therefore we are now seeking comments on this planned modification to the Gallatin National Forest Travel Management Plan.

The Lionhead recommended wilderness area straddles the Continental Divide along the Idaho/Montana border west of Hebgen Lake in the southwest part of the Gallatin National Forest. It extends onto the Targhee National Forest in Idaho. The Gallatin Forest Plan (USDA 1987) recommended adding 22,800 acres of the 32,780-acre roadless unit (Gallatin portion) to Wilderness. This recommendation has been in most of the Montana Wilderness bills introduced as legislation in the 1990s, but Congress has not acted to designate the area as Wilderness. The area includes trails in the Mile Creek, Sheep Creek, Watkins Creek and Coffin Creek drainages that access several cirque basins and small lakes. These trails, and others within the recommended wilderness, are now prohibited to motorcycle and ATV use as a result of the decision for the Gallatin Forest Travel Management Plan. The Travel Plan also prohibited snowmobile use within this area.

I am currently preparing to make a decision on whether mountain biking should be prohibited in the Lionhead recommended wilderness area until such time that Congress acts on the current Forest Plan recommendation or a revised Forest Plan concludes that these areas have some other higher, better use than as wilderness. An affirmative decision would modify the Gallatin National Forest Travel Management Plan to prohibit mountain biking within this area. More specifically, mountain biking would be prohibited on the following system trails:

Coffin Lakes Trail #209
Mile Creek Trail #214
West Fork Watkins Creek Trail #216
Sheep Lake Trail #218


Mountain biking would also be prohibited on any non-system trail and for off-route travel within the recommended wilderness area. In other words, this modification of the Travel Plan would close the entire area to mountain bike use.

Providing Comments

In addition to the public comments we receive, I will base my decision on the Gallatin National Forest Travel Management Plan FEIS (October 2006). This FEIS is posted on the Gallatin National Forest website at: http://www.fs.fed.us./r1/gallatin/travel_planning.

Comments will be accepted until July 18th, 2008. To be most helpful, comments should be substantive and specific to the mountain bike prohibitions being considered for the Lionhead recommended wilderness. They should include: (1) name, address, telephone number, and organization represented, if any; (2) title of the action (i.e. “Lionhead Bike Prohibition”); (3) specific facts and supporting reasons for me to consider; and (4) signatures.

Written comments should be sent to:

Gallatin National Forest
Attn: Steve Christiansen
P.O. Box 130
Bozeman, MT 59771

Electronic comments can be e-mailed to: [email protected]. Enter the phrase “Lionhead Bike Prohibition” in the subject line. Comments may also be faxed to (406) 587-6758. If you have questions please contact Steve Christiansen at (406) 587-6750 or Kimberly Schlenker at (406) 587-6743.

Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be considered part of the public record and will be available for public inspection. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered. Additionally, pursuant to 7 CFR 1.27(d), any person may request the agency to withhold a submission from the public record by showing how the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) permits such confidentiality. Persons requesting such confidentiality should be aware that, under the FOIA, confidentiality may be granted in only very limited circumstances, such as to protect trade secrets. The Forest Service will inform the requester of the agency's decision regarding the request for confidentiality, and where the request is denied, the agency will return the submission and notify the requester that the comments may be resubmitted with or without name and address.
Sincerely,

/s/ Mary C. Erickson
MARY C. ERICKSON
Forest Supervisor
 

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sent my comment
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Last summer Sheep Lake ride photos

Sheep Lake is accessed from the west side of the Henrys. There is a trail that crosses all the way through the moutains, connecting to the Coffin Lake trail on the east side. These pictures are from 2007.
 

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GregB406 said:
...When the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance formulates a list of talking points soon, I will post them here in this thread....
Any of those talking points been formulated yet? I've not ridden any of this, but the pictures you posted look awfully tasty. I'll need to pull out my maps and plan a ride out there.

--Ben
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Coffin Lake photos from 2007

Coffin Lake is a shorter ride, accessed from the east side of the Henrys. There is a connector trail through from Coffin Lk. to Sheep Lk.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
venom600 said:
Any of those talking points been formulated yet? I've not ridden any of this, but the pictures you posted look awfully tasty. I'll need to pull out my maps and plan a ride out there.

--Ben
Talking points are being edited by others and I hope to see them soon to get them out to everyone.

Corey is planning a last minute series of advocacy rides in the Henrys over July 4th. 3 rides, 3 days. Tough weekend, Boulder/White Clouds, Kettle Crest, and now this.
 

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GregB406 said:
Corey is planning a last minute series of advocacy rides in the Henrys over July 4th. 3 rides, 3 days. Tough weekend, Boulder/White Clouds, Kettle Crest, and now this.
Damn, I'm gonna be up in Bigfork July 3-8. I'd love a guided tour of this area some day, unless I get to it on my own first. So much riding to do....so little time....

--Ben
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
the schedule

Lionshead Advocacy Ride Schedule

July 4 – Continental Divide Trail. Meeting at the Mile Creek Trailhead at about 9:45-10:00 a.m. This is about 100 miles from Bozeman, south through the Madison Valley. Elevation gain of over 3,000 ft. yet this ride is fairly easy on a bike as the trail grade is built to modern standards (50 switchbacks!). Snow blocking our progress is likely near the top. If we can ride in the basin over the top, into Targhee National Forest, we will. This is a through route, but we will be treating it as an out and back ride, returning to our vehicles. This trail is strategically most important to bicyclists as a vital link in the CDT between Yellowstone Park and the Pintlar Wilderness. This CDT trail corridor is extremely important for bicyclists to keep open, in order to retain our best chance in the state for multi-day wilderness quality riding opportunities in the future.

July 5 – Coffin Lake. Pretty ride to an alpine lake. This ride is the shortest of the three, but can be made longer by riding on to either the Continental Divide Trail or in the direction of Sheep Lake.

July 6 – Sheep Lake. Longest ride? Still not a full day out, but more than half day. Most technical trail conditions are on this ride. Much less vertical gain than the CDT from Mile Creek.

We could hit snow on any of these rides, and with the snowpack producing high water; we could encounter sporty conditions at creek crossings. Hopefully the bridges are still in place. Leaving Bozeman from the Ridge (Athletic Club) on Ferguson Rd. at 8 each day, we would travel down the Madison Valley towards Reynolds Pass. Sheep Lake and Mile Creek trailheads are just beyond the turnoff to Quake Lake. The Coffin Lake ride may also be accessed by traveling the Madison Valley, because of road repairs on Hwy. 191. If you have bear spray, bring it. Just insurance, you know. Corey Biggers will be leading these rides, and he deserves a big hand and lots of support. (Corey is the first ever IMBA/Fox trail hero) His truck is a crew cab and can haul 4 people plus bikes. He can be emailed at [email protected] or called at 406-580-8096 before 8 p.m. Car pooling is king. Anyone who has real time info on the highway conditions from Bozeman to West Yellowstone, chime in here please.
 

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I am not a MT resident and have not been riding there. Does comment as an interested out of state party that would like to vacation or ride there in the future assist at all?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
JoshG said:
I am not a MT resident and have not been riding there. Does comment as an interested out of state party that would like to vacation or ride there in the future assist at all?
Absolutely Josh. I have heard we will have talking points by Monday. But the out of state perspective is vital and us residents cannot adequately convey that point. Go for it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
talking points from IMBA and the MMBA

the links are not active, so copy and paste them into your browser for more information.

Help Save the Continental Divide Trail Near Yellowstone
National Park


IMBA and the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance urge all mountain bikers
to help prevent bike prohibitions on the Continental Divide Trail and
other epic singletrack near Yellowstone National Park. The Gallatin
National Forest has proposed a bicycle ban on five trails in the
extraordinary Lionhead area, totaling more than 25 miles. Your support
is crucial if these trails are to remain open to mountain biking.
http://go.imba.com/site/R?i=3ki6C5bBndJrNt2X6st7CA..

"We depend on Lionhead's backcountry trails and setting,"
says Kelli Sanders, co-owner of the IMBA-affiliated bicycle and ski
retailer Freeheel and Wheel. "Visiting cyclists highly
value the solitude and challenge of traversing the Continental Divide
Trail or visiting the pristine Coffin Lakes. We hope the Forest
Service continues to protect this important area and its traditional
bicycling trails."
http://go.imba.com/site/R?i=n6SjA-CuF8kt9Bn2Y35yGA..

The trails, considered the best in the surrounding area, also provide
a cherished escape for Bozeman and Big Sky residents and are instantly
popular with visiting mountain bikers.

Take Action!

Tell the Forest Service to protect the Continental Divide Trail and
other trails in a bicycle-friendly manner. The deadline for comments
is July 18.

http://go.imba.com/site/R?i=F4VYTZSrbRTYjvYAPpPMwQ..

Additional Information

Lionhead's trails have been respectfully ridden by bicyclists and
shared successfully with equestrians, hikers and other trail users for
decades.

Cyclists have contributed many hours of trail maintenance in the
Lionhead area and are invested and responsible stakeholders in the
future of this trail system.

The Lionhead area is already designated non-motorized and the
continued presence of bicycles will not damage the resource or
diminish its wilderness character.

Bicyclists enjoy the Lionhead trail system for the same reason as
other quiet trail users. We value the solitude, beauty and challenge
of exploring backcountry singletrack.

The Forest Service can protect the land and allow for continued
bicycling - there is no need to choose between the two. The Lionhead
RWA is a perfect candidate for a Congressional designation such as
National Recreation Area that can permanently protect the area from
new roads and mining while allowing continued bicycle access and
giving the Forest Service better management options.

The economic, social and health contributions of mountain biking in
the Gallatin National Forest should be nurtured and promoted as an
integral piece of forest planning and a lucrative component to the
regional recreation mix.

Writing Your Own Letter

Unique, personalized messages are extremely important. Concerned
mountain bikers can submit their comments using either IMBA's
simple online form or through their own email address or a mailed
letter. All options allow you to edit your comments for maximum
effect.

If you want to write your own letter, please be sure to include the
following:

(1) name, address, telephone number, and organization represented, if
any;
(2) title of the action (i.e. "Lionhead Bike
Prohibition");
(3) specific facts and supporting reasons to be consider; and
(4) signatures.

Letters can be sent to:

Gallatin National Forest
Attn: Steve Christiansen
P.O. Box 130
Bozeman, MT 59771
[email protected]
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
July 4, CDT

I missed this ride, but can give a short narrative. The goal was to ride as far as possible until being turned back by snow, mission accomplished. 9 people started, with one turning around soon. The trail climbs through open foothills, eventually reaching a canyon, then begins an ascent up the 50 switchbacks to the Idaho line. The group made it through quite a bit of snow, eventually hiking about 3/4 mile on snow looking for a clear trail beyond, no luck though, they had climbed too high. John F. broke or bent a derailer hanger, and missed out on the alpine bushwack. His account is here. http://bozemantrailreport.blogspot.com/
 

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Sent my email -- thanks Greg for continuing to spotlight the important behind the scenes work that needs to be done to keep our biking options open.

I've ridden Coffin Lake, and did that one stretch of CDT from the pass to Reynolds... will add Sheep Lake to my must-do list for this summer...

Thanks again for the reminder to get involved!!

Alfie
 
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