Cel­e­brate, pro­tect trails

The Taos News - - FAVOR Y CONTRA -

Trails are good for eco­nomic devel­op­ment. A solid net­work of trails can at­tract out­door recre­ation­ists, and their money, to spend in nearby com­mu­ni­ties.

Trails are also good for com­mu­nity health. When trails criss­cross a com­mu­nity or a county, eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple re­gard­less of their in­come level, res­i­dents are more likely to hike, bike, ride horses or run. (Maybe horses are no longer PC, but I pre­fer to meet a horse on a nar­row trail than a speed­ing trail bike.)

Study af­ter study has born both these facts out. Taos County is well sit­u­ated to de­velop and pro­mote trails for both boost­ing the econ­omy and en­cour­ag­ing com­mu­ni­ties to get health­ier. We have ex­ist­ing trails through­out the moun­tains, across the val­leys and along the gorge. Ef­forts are un­der­way to con­nect those trails.

A pro­ject is also un­der­way to map and des­ig­nate 500 miles of trail from one end of New Mex­ico to the other, fol­low­ing the Río Grande. On Tues­day (Oct. 2), the pub­lic is in­vited to a cel­e­bra­tion at the Gorge Bridge, des­ig­nat­ing 52 miles of the Río Grande Trail within Taos County.

In Questa, the com­mu­nity is look­ing to cre­ate a net­work of trails within the vil­lage and up to Red River.

Crews work ev­ery sum­mer now to ex­pand and im­prove the amaz­ing sys­tem of trails within the Río Grande del Norte Na­tional Mon­u­ment.

The En­chanted Cir­cle Trails As­so­ci­a­tion is work­ing on a pro­ject to es­tab­lish on- and off-road trails from Taos to Taos Ski Val­ley and through­out the Taos Val­ley.

The town has created some bike lanes on es­tab­lished roads, and we hope to see those ex­panded in the fu­ture. Such trails, de­signed to make it safe to walk or bike around town, are good for res­i­dents and vis­i­tors. Walk­a­ble and bike­able paths will be an­other gem Taos can use to pro­mote it­self as a des­ti­na­tion while also help­ing en­cour­age its cit­i­zens to get mov­ing and stay healthy.

What else can be done to pro­mote trails and their use?

How about the town and county work­ing with the En­chanted Cir­cle Trails As­so­ci­a­tion and some data map­ping stu­dents to cre­ate an in­ter­ac­tive web-based mas­ter trails list show­ing how all the trails con­nect across ju­ris­dic­tions and where there are gaps? Such a pro­ject would re­quire fund­ing, but we think it could at­tract grants.

The county, For­est Ser­vice and Bureau of Land Man­age­ment could jointly work on trails day work projects with the help of groups, such as Ami­gos Bravos. Twice a year they could host coun­ty­wide “Trails Days” and ask the pub­lic to pitch in and help out with a lit­tle mus­cle to clear dead­fall, re­pair ero­sion and pick up trash.

Maybe they could launch an “Adopt a Trail” pro­gram, where schools, non­prof­its, fam­i­lies and groups could choose por­tions of fa­vorite trails to main­tain. Trail work “mee­tups” could be held. Heck, we can imag­ine all sorts of out­door ro­mances sparked by new trail ad­vo­cates meet­ing over downed trees.

Finally, an­other way to pro­tect trails and pub­lic lands: urge Congress to pro­tect the Land and Wa­ter Con­ser­va­tion Fund. The fund has helped pro­tect pub­lic spa­ces in all 50 states, in­clud­ing 1,200 projects in New Mex­ico alone, in­clud­ing the Río Grande del Norte Na­tional Mon­u­ment. Rev­enue for the fund is gen­er­ated from roy­al­ties paid by off­shore drillers.

The LWCF will end Sun­day (Sept. 30) un­less reau­tho­rized and fully funded by Congress. Find out more at savel­wcfnewmex­ico.com/

We ap­plaud the work com­pleted on trails so far. We’re ex­cited about the pos­si­bil­i­ties these path­ways through our beau­ti­ful land­scape rep­re­sent for lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike.

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