- Associated Press - Monday, February 27, 2017

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - Some popular bike races aren’t getting the permits they need this year from the Black Hills National Forest rangers.

Organizers said some of those races may need to be canceled. The Black Hills Back 40 and Victoria Secret race organized by the Black Hills Runners Club are among the competitions in limbo.

When the Forest Service realized some of the events were overlapping with active timber work, the special use permits were denied or organizers were told to change locations, Mystic Ranger District ranger Ruth Esperance told the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/2mw1brl ).

Esperance said the denials are mainly due to safety concerns. And since the Forest Service has a contract with timber companies, they couldn’t change plans for a race.

“When we have a timber sale in that area, there is no reclamation work that takes place to non-system trails after that operation is done,” Esperance said.

She noted that some permits for races were approved on non-system trails this year.

Last year, tension between mountain bikers and the Forest Service escalated when Esperance sent a letter to leaders of the mountain-biking community, which announced that the Forest Service was stepping up monitoring of unauthorized trail construction and use. The letter also said Forest Service would prosecute anyone caught building, maintaining or improving unauthorized trails in violation of federal regulations.

Mountain bike groups denounced the letter, but tension eased a month later when Black Hills National Forest officials expressed support for the development of an evaluation process for proposals to make new trails through the forest.

However, that relationship has since soured once more with the denial of the racing permits.

“We felt like we were moving in a good direction with them, and then we were blindsided by some of the moves they made,” said Kent Jacobs, Black Hills Mountain Bike Association trails director.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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