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Texas Bicycle Coalition, represented by Evaluation Director Lisa Groesz, advocated for increased access for mountain bike use in the Balcones Wilderness Preserve at a recent public meeting.
The Balcones Wilderness Preserve Citizens Advisory Committee held its second and final public forum the evening of February 15, 2006. The forum allowed interested members of the community to voice potential changes to the Land Management Plan. Currently, there are several restrictions set to preserve wildlife and flora including the possibility limiting mountain bike use.
Groesz, speaking on behalf of Texas Bicycle Coalition, emphasized the need to increase the number of trails allowed for responsible mountain bike use, citing research that has shown mountain bike use to be as low impact as hiking or equestrian use. Groesz also cited the recent partnership between the International Mountain Bicycling Association and the National Park Service to underscore the fact that mountain biking can play a role in our parks and preserves with fragile ecosystems without endangering habitat or wildlife.
Other members of the community argued that the empirically-based research articles used by the Balcones Wilderness Preserve to justify restrictions of use did not refer to the same wildlife or same type of land as what exists in the Preserve. Members of the community also emphasized that it will be difficult to continue to support the preserve with bonds if access remains limited.
Overall, approximately 30 different people offered suggestions during the two and a half hour forum for changes to the Land Management Plan and a couple of citizens emphasized the need to conduct studies in the preserve to determine the impact of different uses including mountain biking.
The Citizens Advisory Committee will continue to accept public comments about the Preserve’s land management plan through March 10, 2006. Please visit www.bcpcac.org to make your opinions known to the committee.