A timeline of events and communications related to the BLM Sombrillo Area of Critical Environmental Concern

Taos Mountain Bike Association organizes another large crowd ride in the Sombrillo ACEC

Taos Mountain Bike Association organized a second huge group ride in the Sombrillo ACEC, resulting in extensive widening of the single track trails, off-trail riding, and litter (found after this big event, and presumably from riders in this big ride event).

 

 

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On the left, the trail in the distance is a legacy trail,  BLM trail segment 62, the “West Loop Trail.”  The single-track in the foreground is trail segment 4P, “Razor’s Edge” trail, illegally constructed in 2020.  The trail splitting around the juniper did not exist before the two significant organized mountain bike events on January 16 and January 23, 2022.  This is just one example of how bike riders have recently created new side trails.

 

Taos Mountain Bike Association Hosts Huge Group Ride in the Sombrillo ACEC

Over 100 cars parked at the NM 503 trailhead for coordinated mountain bike blowout in the Sombrillo ACEC.

Mountain bike groups are organizing large-scale rides in the Sombrillo ACEC in an apparent attempt to demonstrate usage to the BLM and influence the Travel Management Plan.  Group rides with these numbers of riders are not usual in the Nambe Badlands, and many of the riders in these recent events had never ridden the area before.  These large group rides have left negative impacts on the Sombrillo ACEC.

Riding in large groups this large does not really give mountain bikers a good reputation. We, the Friends of the Nambé Badlands, are trying to promote responsible mountain biking and demonstrate how mountain bikers can coexist with other trail users while also respecting the fragile landscape of the Nambé Badlands.

 

Taos Mountain Bike Association and Santa Fe Fat Tire Society Coordinate on Massive Group Ride in the Sombrillo ACEC and Nambe Badlands

 

 

BLM extends public comment period for Sombrillo Travel Management Plan Route Inventory from Jan 1 to Jan 31, 2022

The BLM Taos Field Office announced they were extending the period of public comments on the Sombrillo Travel Management Plan Route Inventory.

No reason was given for extending the public comment period.

Read the email from BLM Taos Field Office...
————— the e-mail message from BLM Taos Field Office is below —————-

The Route Inventory comment deadline has been extended to January 31, 2022. Locate the files dated 11/19/2021 at https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/120294/570.

Examples of substantive comments include:

Route 245F should be open for administrative use. I need the road to access my private land for which I have a Right-of-Way.
Route 215Fshould be closed as it crosses private property and fence cutting and illegal dumping occur on a regular basis.
Route 575F should be rerouted to connect with 578F to avoid Rock and Roll Creek to decrease erosion and limit the number of creek crossings.
GPS location___.____.____ would be a good location on public lands to build a parking area that should include 5 pull-through horse trailers parking spots as well as 10 additional vehicle parking spots.

Tips for providing substantive comments:

• Include any knowledge, experience or evidence as it relates to your observations and comments-

Examples:

“Route 575F has conflicts between bikers and hikers due to bikers speed, it should be designated as mountain bikes only with directional use”
OR “Route 575F has conflicts between hikers and bikers but it is the only route to Route 576, 577, 578 and should include design features that slow the speed of mountain bikes and designated as Non-motorized”.
“At Rock and Roll Creek I observe 5 ATV trailers every weekend and 10 cars with bike racks parking along the shoulder. This would be a good spot for a multiple use trailhead with 10 trailer parking spots and room for an addition 20 cars and an information kiosk”.

• Provide GPS readings or landmarks, if possible, when referring to specific locations.

Present new information.

• Share issues relevant to the environmental analysis.

• Suggest alternatives to the proposed project and the reason(s) why they should be considered.

Examples of comments that are not substantive include:

Stop closing our roads
Stating only that you agree or disagree with a policy, resource decision, analysis finding or presented alternative.
Avoid comments like “I don’t like this” or “I do like this”.
Form letters or identical “copied” comments

Official responses must occur through the following options:

Eplanning via the Participate Now link
Print out or save the comment form an E-mail to BLM_NM_TAFO_Admin@blm.gov
Or submit your paper comment forms to:

Outdoor Recreation Planner

Sombrillo Travel Management

Taos Field Office

226 Cruz Alta Road

Taos, NM 87571

Any additional questions, please feel free to reach out to us via BLM_NM_TAFO_Admin@blm.gov or you can contact the Taos Field Office at (575) 758-8851 and the public room can direct your call to someone on my team who is available to answer questions on the travel management process.

As my teams places the comments in the administrative record, we will send you a note that your comment has been received. As we develop or change the planning schedule, these updates will be located on the e-planning link above.

If you do not wish to receive these updates, please respond and we will remove you from the e-mail list.

Judy Culver

Public comment period for Sombrillo Travel Management Plan Route Inventory closed

The public comment period for submitting comments and concerns on the potential trails the BLM will consider in its route inventory for environmental assessment closed on January 1, 2022, at midnight (Mountain Time).

Rio Grande North Chapter of the Sierra Club publishes call-to-action for BLM Sombrillo Travel Management Plan

“Sombrillo Travel Plan & Illegal Trails

Friends of the Nambe [Badlands] and the Northern Group are collaborating to create awareness and solicit help in preserving the fragile Nambe Badlands in the Sombrillo ACEC (Area of Critical Environmental Concern) from damaging bike use.  SF Fat Tire Society and other mountain bikers have carved out new illegal trails in hopes that the upcoming BLM Sombrillo Travel Management Plan will accept them without protest from the public.  Members are urged to visit the Friends of the Nambe Badlands website.  You can register your concerns and urge support for carefully planned trails and recreational use on these sensitive public lands.”

— Conservation News from the Northern New Mexico Group, Rio Grande Chapter, Sierra Club, December 17, 2021

Screenshot of the article

 

 

Santa Fe New Mexican Op-Ed “Nambé Badlands deserve better care”

My View Terry Gibbs

Nambé Badlands deserve better care

Since 2000, Eldorado hikers have trekked Northern New Mexico, from the Ojito Wilderness to the Santa Barbara, from Plaza Blanca to Hermit’s Peak. Never have we seen trails and terrain so badly damaged as when we returned several weeks ago to the Nambé Badlands. This precious, wondrous terrain has been so damaged in only the last couple of years.

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Between 2008 and 2019, we hiked the Nambé Badlands each year to savor its beauty and vistas, avoiding it entirely when rare wetness could cause even hikers to damage to the fragile trails. We did not hike there in the 2019-20 season because of COVID-19.

Our group returned to the Badlands on Nov. 16 for our annual trek. Those of us who had hiked these trails for years were horrified to see the extensive deterioration, degradation and despoiling of both long-designated trails as well as surrounding off-trail areas. New bike paths had been cut across previously untouched ground and through delicate cryptobiotic crusts. Long-designated trails were compressed, heavily rutted and shattered in places. Thus, we thank The New Mexican for its important Dec. 5 “Loved to death” report by Daniel J. Chacón, describing in detail the rapid destruction of this treasured and fragile place.

Knowledgeable and caring local hikers and bikers tread lightly with respect and reverence for the areas we traverse and encourage all who wish to partake of nature’s offerings to do the same. However, the knobby tire marks in the Badlands’ trails and the single bike tracks cutting across fragile cryptobiotic soil we saw from a high ridge, left little doubt as to who and what had caused the severe damage we were seeing.

Before COVID-19, we rarely encountered other hikers in the Badlands, and there were no bikers. Trails were minimal and carefully avoided fragile terrain. However, in the last couple of years, two major events have driven the current destruction.

Many inexperienced people turned to the outdoors to escape the confinement caused by the pandemic, discovering the joys of hiking, biking and camping and other open-air activities they had never felt before. They packed trailhead parking lots, trod trails and crammed campgrounds in numbers that, compared to past use levels, would have taken decades to cause the same amount of “wear.”

This rush to the outdoors was amplified by state and local tourism offices mounting campaigns to promote New Mexico as the ultimate outdoor tourism destination. Even January’s New Mexican story touted the Nambé Badlands as a spectacular mountain biking and hiking locale close to Santa Fe, which it is. However, 10 days after that article appeared, a small but typically sized group of Eldorado hikers (eight to 12 of our 90-plus roster) went there to hike. About 25 cars, half with out-of-state plates, loading and unloading mountain bikes, occupied all the limited parking spaces. From the road, we could see a dozen bikers crisscrossing the rugged terrain. We realized it would be hazardous for hikers, so we went elsewhere.

Necessary actions to restore and protect the Nambé Badlands will not be popular with those who may be limited or denied access. It will take at least a couple of years to prevent the current damage from expanding and to allow time for some recovery. It could be that it will never “recover” but simply erode further. Damaged cryptobiotic soil may never heal in our lifetimes. Those of us who enjoy hiking the Nambé Badlands because of its uniqueness and beauty will miss it if it’s closed. As is the case throughout our threatened natural world, its loss is everyone’s, including future generations.

The Eldorado Hiking Group was founded in 2000 and has more than 90 hikers. Terry Gibbs is one of the group founders, and both he and Peter Glankoff are hike leaders.

https://www.santafenewmexican.com/opinion/my_view/namb-badlands-deserve-better-care/article_daa74b62-5e15-11ec-b88e-3fbc81c3d877.html

Santa Fe Fat Tire Society admits working/planning with BLM on new trails in Nambé

Santa Fe Fat Tire Society admits that some of its members have been working with BLM on new trails in the Nambe area.

 

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Friends of Nambé Badlands leadership mountain bike ride meeting with Santa Fe Fat Tire Society leadership

Friends of the Nambé Badlands President (Ed MacKerrow) and Vice-President (Dave Kraig) call a mountain bike meeting with Santa Fe Fat Tire Society President (Kyle Klain) and Board Member (Carl Gable) in the Nambé Badlands to discuss shared visions and strategy, ride trails to discuss resource impacts, illegal trails, rider education, and trail sign needs.

Friends of Nambé Badlands Board members Dave Kraig and Ed MacKerrow attend Sombrillo Travel Management Plan trail inventory

Friends of Nambé Badlands Board members Dave Kraig and Ed MacKerrow attend Sombrillo Travel Management Plan trail inventory to provide input on trails in the Sombrillo ACEC and the Nambe Badlands, Zone 5 and Zone 6

 

Download Sombrillo Travel Management Area North (10.7 MB) PDF

 

Download Sombrillo Travel Management Area South (10 MB) PDF

 

Download Sombrillo Travel Management Plan Public Comment Form

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