Overlode singletrack loop to stay but controversial snowmobile trail still planned
by Joel Patenaude
State officials have partially walked back a trails plan for Blue Mound State Park west of Madison, Wisconsin, which called for closing a popular mountain bike trail and building a controversial multi-purpose trail for winter snowmobile use.
In a press release issued this week, the Department of Natural Resources announced that its revised draft amendment to the park’s master plan (online here) would retain the four-mile Overlode singletrack loop favored by mountain bikers and eliminates the multi-use trail.
The plan would still allow for a snowmobile trail through the park for the first time in more than two decades. The 1.4-mile snowmobile trail will likely require moving or altering a nearby cross-country ski trail
The state Natural Resources Board will consider the draft amendment at its meeting on January 27, according to the news release. Public testimony will be taken at that time from individuals who register in advance.
At previous public hearings, the snowmobilers in attendance – primarily representing the sport’s state association and clubs outside the Blue Mounds area – have outnumbered Nordic skiers.
In a letter to the DNR last month, the Madison Nordic Ski Club argued that allowing snowmobiles in the park would diminish the skiing experience of its 250-some members. The letter cited snowmobile engine noise, pollution and impact on wildlife as reasons to oppose the state park master plan amendment preferred by DNR officials.
However, the main objection of the ski club is that the proposed snowmobile trail would require rerouting part of the Pleasure Valley ski trail out of the protection of a wooded area. More exposure to wind and sun, the snow on that section of the trail would be more difficult to keep groomed and skiable.
The DNR has abandoned its plan to build a crushed limestone, multi-use trail at a projected cost of $180,000. DNR officials hoped user groups would contribute funds to the new trail, but but both snowmobile and bicycle groups expressed reluctance.
“It’s a substantial amount of money to build a multi-use path, which has no constituency as far as I can see,” Walt Hougas, member of both the Friends of Blue Mounds State Park and the Capital Off Road Pathfinders (CORP) mountain bike club, told the Wisconsin State Journal.
The DNR news release follows in its entirety.
Revised plan retains popular mountain bike trail, includes scaled-back snowmobile route
MOUNT HOREB, Wis. – A revised draft amendment for an updated trail network within Blue Mound State Park is now available for public review.
The draft amendment updates the property trail network plan for a number of summer and winter trail uses. This revised plan retains the popular Overlode mountain bike trail, with some modification to improve trail sustainability, provide a core of un-fragmented interior forest landscape, protect sensitive waterways and continue access to the eastern edge of the park.
The revised plan also eliminates a proposed multiuse trail. The revised plan retains a 1.4-mile snowmobile corridor that connects the Military Ridge State Trail to Blue Mound State Park and continues north between 40-50 feet from the Mounds Park Road road-edge to the intersection at Ryan Road. The route will cross Ryan Road and continue to the northern boundary of the park. Controlled stop signed intersections will be established at Ryan Road and all recreational trail / route crossings south of Ryan Road.
The state Natural Resources Board authorized a review of the park’s master plan in December 2014 following a request from state and local advocates for snowmobiling that the Department of Natural Resources re-open a snowmobile trail in the Pleasure Valley area of the park that was abandoned in the early 1980s when a neighboring property was closed to snowmobiling, making the trail through Blue Mounds a dead end.
The revised draft master plan amendment will be considered by the state Natural Resources Board at its Jan. 27, 2016 meeting in Madison. People may provide comments on the revised draft plan to the board either in writing or by attending the meeting. People need to register to testify before the board by 11 a.m., Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Information on registering can be found on the NRB public participation page of the DNR website.
Blue Mound State Park located in Iowa and Dane counties, consists of 1,159 acres of state park lands that includes outstanding vistas of the surrounding landscape while offering camping, hiking, mountain biking, picnicking and a swimming pool complex.
The draft amendment and supporting documents are available by searching the Wisconsin DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords “master planning” and then clicking on the link for the Blue Mound State Park plan amendment.