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Your ‘2 cents’ can make a difference at Scotts Bluff National Monument

August 4, 2013

Remember way back in November 2012, when comments were being gathered on trails out at Scotts Bluff National Monument? No? Here’s a blog post on that to remind you.

If you are a regular visitor to SBNM, if you have ever been there, if you plan to go there, or if you just like the idea of the place existing – here is your opportunity to help make the place even more awesome, simply by voicing your opinion.

The gist is, there is currently a planning document open for comment (only until August 21!) about possible future trails on SBNM property. “Alternative C” – my favorite – would add 7 miles of trails to the existing 4.2 miles of trails, and 3.6 miles of “e-trails.”

Here is a screen shot of "Master Plan Alternative C" - the dotted pink lines are proposed trails (the ones with the little circle icons are "virtual trails" with GPS points you'd be able to follow with a smartphone.)

Here is a screen shot of “Master Plan Alternative C” – the dotted pink lines are proposed trails (the ones with the little circle icons are “virtual trails” with GPS points you’d be able to follow with a smartphone.)

I think the proposed trails are awesome. If you think the proposed trails are awesome, and your neighbor thinks the proposed trails are awesome, and enough other people think the proposed trails are awesome, THEY MIGHT BECOME REALITY!

This is the U.S. Government we are talking about – none of this will happen quickly, if at all, but having a strong public response in support of the proposed trails greatly increases the odds of those trails getting built.

Before I blather on with my own opinion about these trails, here is some important info for you.

You can download the entire PDF planning document here: “SCBL Trail Plan and EA“. (If that link does not work the link to the planning page is here: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=164&projectID=44254&documentID=54690.) This document is very thorough. It is 64 pages long. I think you will be most interested in chapter 2, pages 11-19, which talks about the proposed trails.

Once you’ve read enough to develop an opinion, here is the most important part: SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS IN WRITING BY AUGUST 21, 2013! Don’t just comment on this blog post or on a Facebook page – actually register your comments with the government by clicking on the “Comment on Document >>” button!

Click the button!

Support the trails with your comments!

All the cool kids are doing it!

OK, now for some comments that I will send to the government, gussied up with some pictures for the viewing pleasure of my blog readers:

I am strongly in support of Alternative C. I believe the trail options outlined in the report will serve our community in multiple ways.

1. SAFETY. A pedestrian/bike pathway along Old Oregon Trail is sorely needed. This is a 45-mile-per-hour two-lane road that handles a significant amount of truck traffic, yet is one of the most popular routes in the area for running and biking because it is so scenic, historically iconic, and challenging. The hill at Mitchell Pass means there is not the clearest line of sight, so an oncoming driver might not see a biker or runner until it is too late. Please, please develop a pathway here pronto, before there is an accident.

The participants in the Don Childs run during Oregon Trail Days are a small portion of the folks who run Old Oregon Trail through the park on a regular basis.

The participants in the Don Childs run during Oregon Trail Days are a small portion of the folks who run (or bike) Old Oregon Trail through the park on a regular basis. This road is part of the Monument Marathon route, too.

2. PRESERVATION. I am very glad the trails proposed for the South Bluff and along the Oregon Trail through the park are E-trails. I have always considered the South Bluff to be one of the best-kept hiking secrets of the area. An e-trail would improve access but would not scar the landscape with a constructed trail. An e-trail would also be less obvious to the hordes of visitors, so I can selfishly hope those trails stay somewhat peaceful and solitary. And avoiding any sort of construction activity atop the Oregon Trail swales while helping visitors get out to explore them is the best of all possible scenarios.

A view from atop the South Bluff

A view from atop the rarely-hiked South Bluff

3. HEALTH. Scottsbluff keeps winding up on “fattest community” top-ten lists. By increasing the trails at SBNM from about 4 miles to 14, we would be providing community members one more option to get out, explore, and get fit. I am especially interested in the connectivity between these proposed trails and existing community trails. I extra-specially would like to see that “community link trail boardwalk” get constructed to connect SBNM to the dead-end Monument Valley Pathway on the north side of the North Platte River.

It's sad that such a lovely pathway has a dead end.

It’s sad that such a lovely pathway has a dead end.

4. TOURISM. SBNM and its pathways are already a tourist draw. If we could increase those pathways and link them in to other scenic pathways in the community – specifically the Monument Valley Pathway on the north side of the North Platte River – I think we could get more multi-day visitors to the area and increase tourism revenue.

The views from the Monument Valley Pathway are quite lovely in all seasons.

The views from the Monument Valley Pathway are quite lovely in all seasons.

Those are my 2 cents – what’s your opinion of the proposed trails?

Copyright 2013 by Katie Bradshaw

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