It is common knowledge that the reason bikes have such limited access in the Fells is due to the Friends of the Fells. They argue bikes should be banned from trails because they cause damage. They have no evidence that bikes cause more damage then a hiker, and in fact all the studies point to hikers and bikers causing the same amount of trail damage. Of course, the Friends of the Fells have never argued to close any of the popular marked trails to hikers. Just bikes. You'd almost think that they were more interested in getting rid of bikes, than actually protecting the trails (although honestly, I've thought this for years). Well now the cats out of the bag.
A newly formed Belmont land management group is deciding over, among other things, bike access to trails that have been open to bikes forever. What does this have to do with the Fells? Absolutely nothing. Yet the Friends of the Fells wrote a nice long letter to the Belmont group, telling them that the biggest problem in the Fells is bikers, ruining the trails. A survey they performed even said so. Wow big surprise, I wonder who they sent the survey to, I sure didn't get a copy.
So this letter makes it pretty clear that the Friends of the Fells absolutely hates bikes. Even when it has nothing to do with the Fells, they want to hurt biking. Whatever it takes. I think anyone out there that is a level-headed Friends of the Fells member, has to seriously reconsider their membership. The DCR maintains the park, not the Friends of the Fells. We see what the Friends of the Fells do.
Re: McLean Open Space Land Comprehensive Trail System Analysis and
Implementation Plan; Trail System Assessment Report
Draft September 2007
I would like to congratulate Belmont for having initiated a process for evaluating and creating plans to restore and protect McLean open space land.
The Friends of the Fells has received an alert sent by the New England Mountain Bike Association which suggests that the Land Management Committee and Pressley Associates has unfairly targeted bike users on the property "because a small but vocal group of Belmont residents who have property abutting this public space have expressed a desire to ban bikes from the property." This does not seem likely.
The 2500 acre Fells reservation encounters all of the trail management problems highlighted in the McClean Draft Trail System Assessment Report, on an even larger scale. These include existence of countless redundant trails, drainage problems, excessive trail width, damage to tree roots, erosion, and encroachment on vernal pools.
In our experience we find that unrestricted mountainbike use greatly exacerbates these trail problems. The physics of bike operations means that these vehicles are able to travel far greater distances than a hiker in a given period of time. Moreover, compared to shoes or boots, knobby tires and grinding wheels tears up the ground which erodes soil, exposing tree roots. We also note that as trails become increasingly devoid of soil bikers seek more solid ground which means steering bikes onto the trail shoulders. This is clearly seen in the Fells where, for instance, mossy trail borders are eliminated. Besides creating destruction of plant life wider trails lead to loss of habitat for animal species.
The Friends has conducted two Fells visitor surveys in the last decade and in both the number one problem noted by respondents was the intrusion of mountain bikes on the ability of visitors to enjoy their experience in the Reservation.
I just wanted to take a minute to share these comments with you and wish you well as you create conditions to better manage open space within McClean open space.
Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation