- Associated Press - Monday, April 11, 2016

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service is cracking down on unauthorized trail-building in the Black Hills National Forest, and that’s prompted a backlash from some area mountain bikers.

District Ranger Ruth Esperance recently sent a letter to leaders of the mountain biking community, warning that violations of the ban on unauthorized trails could result in criminal prosecution and even prison time.

“I regret that we have arrived at this point, as meetings and discussions have not been enough to curb these illegal actions,” Esperance wrote.

Mountain biking group spokesman Jason Kingsbury told the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/1SsALhD ) that the letter was “threatening, bullying and inflammatory.” His group held their weekly ride last Wednesday on an unauthorized trail mentioned by Esperance in her letter, in open defiance of the Forest Service.

Kingsbury said he doesn’t condone unauthorized trail-building but disputes the legality of prohibiting mountain bikers from riding trails they encounter in the forest. Esperance told the newspaper that any attempt to simultaneously condemn the building of illegal trails while defending a right to ride them is “sad.”



Both sides said they hope to cooperate on a plan for future trail development and maintenance, and that the passion generated by Esperance’s letter might end up being the thing that brings everyone to the table.

“We can only support so much (trails),” Esperance said. “So we hope they’ll work with us to develop what we can sustain on the landscape, and then that’s what we all collectively recognize.”

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

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