Photo: Upper portion of Suspended in Paradise. The Lower Portion has been rototilled.
Dr. Peter Bauer sent us this email Sunday night after he hiked up Twin Peaks. We print it here and ask folks who know what's going on with this decommissioned trail to either weigh-in using the comment field below or to send us an email and we will paste it into this post. If you're upset with what's happened, say so. Nonetheless, nix the inflammatory language or any name calling, we'll remove any addition to this post that isn't civil.
On a hike up Twin Peaks today (10/9) I was shocked to see the devastation wrought on the Suspended in Paradise Trail. The entire lower half has been rototilled in a five-foot-wide swath of completely churned-up ground, devoid of vegetation, and supremely ugly. At first, one might have blamed a large group of trespassing dirt bikers (in a no-motorized-vehicle area) until one saw how meticulously the trail had been destroyed. It quickly dawned on us that this was actually a deliberate removal of the trail by the Forest Service. The part that confounds me was that Suspended in Paradise has been a staple of Twin Peaks mountain biking for nigh on ten years, and I assumed it was a 'legitimate' trail, ridden by most mountain bikers who venture past the gate blocking motor traffic. The trail struck me always as user friendly, well-designed, durable and popular.
Several thoughts on the subject:
- The Forest Service as land manager has a right to make decisions about the land. However, in this post Pedal-Driven era (Jamie Howell's film), I would have expected a lot of dialogue about removing such a long-standing trail with the mountain biking community. Did that ever happen? If not, doesn't this undercut the whole idea of cooperation as to mountain biking recreation on Forest Service lands?
- Secondly, this manner of removing the trail seems senselessly destructive. When the Chelan Douglas Land Trust removes a trail, branches and other natural barriers are put up, and the remaining ground is prepared to recover its natural vegetation. The result conveys an aesthetic sense of returning to nature that which was disturbed. The particular manner of the interventioin on Twin Peaks seems designed for maximum discouragement: discouraging any recreational use, discouraging any treasuring of the beauty of that trail, discouraging anything natural growing there for years. Was it really necessary to churn up the area like a rabid 2-ton ground hog?
The final irony: Other than our footprints on the hummocked loose soil there was one other set of tracks. It was from a (motorized) dirt bike.
NEWEST Update: See the fifth comment below. The Forest Service did authorize the obliteration of this skid trail/road as part of old timber sales. This obliteration was approved and had gone through the NEPA process many years ago.