Central Texas Cyclists: This is your opportunity to help preserve current mountain bike trails and show your support for new, responsibly-built trails in area wilderness preserves.
The Citizens Advisory Committee for the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve (BCP) is accepting public comment on their new land management plan. The Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan (BCCP) is used by the City of Austin and Travis County to manage about 30,000 acres of endangered wildlife preserve in western Travis County. It is important that the cycling and mountain biking communities participate in the comment process and show your interest in responsible access to public lands.
The Citizens Advisory Committee is holding its second and final public meeting on Wednesday, February 15, 2006 6:30-8:30 pm, at the Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources Westside Service Center at 4501 RR 620 N. The Westside Service Center is located approximately one mile north of Mansfield Dam east of RR 620. Comments are limited to 3 minutes. A large turnout will show the committee that the cycling community is serious about gaining additional access to the preserve. Please attend and give the Citizens Advisory Committee your input!
If you cannot attend the public comment meeting, comments will be accepted on the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve website through March 10, 2006. Please visit the website at www.bcpcac.org, and use the “submit comments” option at the bottom of the page to let the committee know your opinions about including additional mountain bike trails on BCP lands.
The land management plan for the preserve is reviewed every five years as part of the BCP’s federal permit. Mountain biking is allowed only on those portions of the BCP lands that have been “grandfathered.” All other BCP lands are currently closed to cyclists. Historically, the preserve has been open primarily to hikers. According to the land management plan, new trails may be added within the preserve as part of an approved plan as long as the activities don’t harm the habitat or the species living there. The comment period gives those interested a chance to revisit the areas that have been closed and also potentially work toward opening up other areas of these public lands.
Areas currently “grandfathered” and open to mountain biking:
Barton Creek Greenbelt/Wildnerness Park
Bull Creek Greenbelt and Bull Creek Park
Commons Ford Park
Emma Long Metro Park
Mt. Bonnell Park
St. Edward’s Park
Spicewood Springs Preserve/Barrow Preserve
Chapter XII, Section 3.1.4 Bicycling, of the Land Management Plan says the following about bicycling on BCP lands.
“This activity is prohibited on all BCP tracts that are not “grandfathered” tracts. Biking on the Motorcycle Park in Emma Long Metropolitan Park is “grandfathered” from this prohibition, and may continue at 1996 levels and should be monitored for effects on the endangered species. Appropriate barriers and enforcement penalties should be established to minimize trespass into preserve properties and subsequent damage by bicycles. Enforcement of all applicable rules is required (HCP).
No units purchased specifically for endangered species management or accepted for mitigation, or units that were pre-existing City of Austin Nature Preserves are available for biking. This active recreation is not compatible with the passive uses of wildlife viewing, nature study and contemplation.”
For more information on public access to the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, visit http://www.bcpcac.org/pdf/TierIIA-12_PublicAccess_v.8.pdf.