In western Colorado, the Bureau of Land Management has tackled the issue of dueling recreationists head-on, and come up with a plan that gives each user group room to roam. In April, after almost four years of negotiations with local outdoor enthusiasts, the BLM began implementing a new plan to manage recreation on the 72,000-acre North Fruita Desert, near Grand Junction.
The Fruita area, only an hour and a half from
the outdoor-sports mecca of Moab, has become a mountain bike
destination in its own right, drawing 50,000 visitors a year from
all over the world. When local mountain bikers noticed motorized
use increasing a few years back, they began working with the local
BLM office to protect bike trails from off-roaders. "We had the
example of Moab to learn from," says Troy Rarick, owner of Over the
Edge Sports, a mountain bike shop in Fruita. "It’s not that
we dislike motorcycles and ATVs, but if they took over our trail
system, we’d lose what we had."
According to the
new plan, which was released in November, 63,000 acres allow
motorized vehicles on designated routes. Another 435-acre plot will
be fenced in for "anything goes" cross-country motorized travel. A
5,000-acre mountain-biking zone excludes motorized vehicles, and
another 3,500 acres are open only to horseback riders and hikers.
"We’re asking a lot of people to make changes in their
behavior," says Jim Cooper, transportation planner with the Grand
Junction BLM office. "But so far, it’s being very well
BLM staff are placing signs and creating maps
to help visitors understand the new management plan. A 35-unit
campground will be completed by August.