A few weeks before the snow fell, the Snyderville Basin Recreation Trails Committee decided to close Rob’s Trail for winter biking. They put a sign up saying it was Hiking Only and "No Bikes" were allowed. There were many proponents of Snow Biking who attended a public meeting on Tuesday to express their dissatisfaction with the Basin Rec decision. Carolyn Murray was there and has this report:
The meeting was called by Ben Liegert who is the Basin Rec Parks and Trails Manager. The trail was closed to summer downhill biking in 2017 because of safety issues with hikers and downhill bike traffic. Trails Maintenance Supervisor, Phares Gines does not snow bike but said the reason they decided to close the trail to biking was not to discriminate against snow bike users but to address the safety concerns and complaints they received last winter.
A downhill option on Canyons Trails or on UOP Trails is available during the summer season. The sign now states no biking is allowed at all on Rob’s Trail during winter months and that it is Hiking Only. The meeting was called in response to the public outcry opposing the closure to winter biking.
Nearly everyone in attendance said they wanted the Rec Department to remove the sign immediately and allow snow bikes back on Rob’s Trail. Comments made included frustration that the Sun Peak Homeowners Association was not part of the decision.
Of the 16 people attending the meeting, all but one said they were surprised and frustrated with the decision to close the trail. Naomi Doyle has lived in Sun Peak for 21 years and uses Rob’s often. She said Fat Bikes don’t go fast enough to cause a safety threat. Doyle said the decision to close Rob’s makes bike access on all the Sun Peak Trails impossible.
“The way fat bikes work, they’re very slow so I think as far as safety, it is a non-issue. It’s causing a lot of animosity between people. I get anxious everyday I go out on that trail because, not so much the local people in the neighborhood and people here. It’s tourists and visitors and friends of friends and they say No Bikes, even in the summer. But, I have been talking to hikers up there and everyone is totally against the sign. It’s ridiculous and doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Most felt the sign itself is causing tension between the many users of the trails. Ed Palmer points out how the decision to close the trail to bikes is discriminatory.
"Well actually, what they say is, they say Rob’s Trail will be hiking only during the winter season. There’s an underline, then it says no bikes on Rob’s. It specifically says that it will be hiking only. All other use is not permitted which means you can’t skin up the place, you can’t tour, you can’t sled down it. You can’t run on the trail. You can’t snow shoe okay? Well, it depends on how you want to define hiking. And, then to purposely say no bikes on Rob’s is just crazy and causes this massive hostility. And, it’s usually discriminatory because you just said of that group, this is the way people interpret it unfortunately, no bikes. Other uses, perfectly okay. I can ride my god damn horse up that trail.”
Palmer describes some of the aggression he has experienced on the trail asking Basin Rec to clarify the signage saying they have just shifted the safety issue and not solved it.
“Even prior to that sign going up, the existence of the directional sign for upper Rob’s causes nothing but confusion. I’ve almost been punched out at the bottom of the trail trying to explain to somebody that he was actually wrong. Okay, and this is something that we have to deal with routinely…it doesn’t go away. Your signs, you need to review them. I think there’s probably support here for that. They’re confusing.”
Dave Dubois from the Sun Peak HOA said it’s not legal for Basin Rec to restrict use. Melissa O’brian is the Planning and Legal Affairs Manager and she said their legal opinion differs from the HOA’s but asked attendees to help coordinate a meeting with the HOA.
“..have to make some decisions on whether or not, you know they want to accept liability and how they want to manage the easement. And so, I think we need a voting quorum of your HOA.”
“You want to give the easement back? Is that what you are talking about?”
“No, ‘I’m just talking about…well no big surprise you know our legal analysis is different than Bruce’s.” I think it makes some sense to have the HOA hear from the County Attorney and try to come up with a solution here that doesn’t interfere with how we maintain a trail for safety and what you all want. So, we’re just trying to look for solutions here, but we need a voting quorum of your HOA.”
A meeting between the Sun Peak HOA and Basin Rec is scheduled for Thursday, Devcember 6 at 4:30.