WE ADVOCATE FOR OUR TRAILS
Our mission is to preserve and enhance non-motorized trail access in Whatcom County through stewardship, education, and advocacy. WMBC takes the advocacy of our trails very seriously. We have been working directly with land managers since the organizations conception to open up more trails and access points for mountain bikers and other trail users.
Our history of advocacy is rich with successes and longstanding relationships that have resulted in the 85+ miles of mountain biking trails you can find in Whatcom County.
Recent advocacy achievements include the creation of the Waterfront Pump Track, Huff & Puff, Cougar Ridge, Mohawk, Dad Bod, Brown Pow, and we just started the permitting process to build the Birchwood Pump Track!
Please email any questions or concerns to email@example.com.
TRAIL ADVOCACY TIMELINE
Each trail system in Whatcom County has multiple land managers
that we collaborate with in order to achieve our mission
We also work with other local groups such as Whatcom Trails Association, Backcountry Horseman of Washington, and Aspire Adventure Running. We lobby on behalf of our mountain bike user group at county and city council meeting as well as meeting at our state capital, while engaging with a variety of user groups: mountain bikers, hikers, equestrians, dog walkers.
Many trails that we manage in Whatcom County are built by volunteers organized by WMBC, however many trails are built by professional trail builders such as Shire Built and require paid trail work.
Advocate for pump tracks and skills zones in city parks and tribal land
Contribute to DNR Trail Policy guidelines
Expand trail access and mileage in Whatcom County
Work directly with local land managers to protect access and increase trail mileage
ADVOCACY ON GALBRAITH MOUNTAIN
Galbraith Mountain is a privately-owned commercial working forest surrounded on 3 sides by neighborhoods along Samish Way, Lakeway/Lake Louise Road and Yew Street. Since 1986, WMBC has been building and maintaining trails on Galbraith Mountain and have been the authorized trail stewards since 2001. That original Recreation Use Agreement transferred from the former owners (Trillium Corporation) to Polygon Financial in 2011. Between 2011 and 2018, we assisted the City and Whatcom Land Trust in negotiating permanent easements across the 2,240 acres purchased by Galbraith Tree Farm in 2017.
The four main landowners on Galbraith are Galbraith Tree Farm (2,240 acres), Polygon LLC (650 acres), City of Bellingham (400 acres) and the Department of Natural Resources (50 acres) along with some smaller private in-holdings.
Janicki Logging (along with their subcontractors) performs timber management operations throughout the year including aerial spraying, commercial and non- commercial thinning, road construction and clear cutting. Because Galbraith is a dynamic landscape, WMBC manages the evolving trail network unlike other areas in Whatcom County. Within the timber management, there are two types of logging on Galbraith that impact the public’s trail access each year: thinning and clear cutting.
Thinning is where the loggers harvest a percentage of trees in a particular area. After thinning, there is a variable amount of damage to the trails. In most sections, there is slash (cut branches, tops of trees, etc.) laying across the trail. Restoring these sections of trail can typically be cleaned up by hand with typically little tread repair that needs to take place. Piles of slash surround 100% of the trail tread post-harvest and keep sediment from traveling no more than a few feet.
There are also bigger trail crossings during thinning where the machines have created a "road" that the loggers use to travel across the trail to haul logs to their landings. For this part of their operation, they use a machine called a forwarder which has 5' tall wheels with chains on them. The crossings typically have 3-5' deep ruts from the machine where the slash is driven into the soil. The crossings tend to be narrow (30-50 feet wide) but are a massive amount of work to restore.
Depending on the topography and vehicle/road access points, the loggers will sometimes utilize the trail corridor itself and create 3-5’ deep ruts going down the trail itself and require significantly more work to restore. An example of this was the middle section of Atomic Dog during last year’s harvest. Because of the intensity of trail damage, we restore the crossings and ruts with our mini-excavator and then do hand work to button things up at the end. Sometimes, there is just a few crossings and sometimes there's large sections of trail destroyed.
As the name would suggest, this operation is when the loggers take all the trees within an area (minus the ones they keep for the Habitat Conservation Plan - HCP). By and large, this harvest operation impacts an entire trail or area of trails and most of the trail tread is heavily impacted by their machines with slash driven into the ground. When restoring trails in clear cuts, we use our mini excavator to move slash away from the trail corridor and then have hand crews (volunteers typically) do the final shaping and compaction of dirt. As with thinning operations, there are piles of slash surrounding 100% of the trail tread post-harvest that keeps sediment from traveling no more than a few feet. Areas on Galbraith that have had extensive clear cuts like the Bears, Bunny Trails, SST and Lost Giants are indicative of the level of work in these zones.
An important aspect of Galbraith being a working forest is the volume of trails affected during harvest operations. In the past 5 years, nearly every trail has been impacted in some way and last year (2019-2020) more than 1/4 of the mountain's acreage had timber harvest and the WMBC restored 22 miles of trail. During the 2019-20 season, trail access on the north side (Birch Street) was completely closed when The Ridge, Bob’s, Cedar Dust and FF Center were being thinned. The North Side access is the primary route from Bellingham and the closure affected more than 50% of the public’s access to the mountain. When these closures occur, we redirect ALL traffic to the south side of the mountain (Galbraith Lane) and to other neighborhood access trails which invariably causes friction with neighbors. As such, it is always WMBC’s goal to get trail access restored as quickly and as efficiently as possible post-harvest.
E-BIKES ON THE TRAILS
Las bicicletas eléctricas diseñadas para uso fuera de la carretera (también conocidas como E-MTB) son un fenómeno relativamente nuevo y los administradores de terrenos públicos y privados están implementando y ajustando sus políticas de acceso para esta actividad.
El código de vehículos del estado de Washington, ratificado por la legislatura en febrero de 2018 en SB 6434 :
Define qué es una bicicleta eléctrica en el estado de Washington y establece un marco regulatorio para su uso.
Clasifica una bicicleta eléctrica como una clase especial de bicicleta, siempre que la potencia de salida no supere los 750 vatios, tenga un sillín, incluya pedales completamente operativos y cumpla con las siguientes restricciones de clase:
Clase 1: asistencia electrónica solo al pedalear, con una velocidad máxima de 20 mph.
Clase 2: Puede ser propulsado únicamente por el motor, con una velocidad máxima de 20 mph.
Clase 3: asistencia electrónica solo al pedalear, con una velocidad máxima de 28 mph y tiene un velocímetro.
Por lo general, no permite las bicicletas eléctricas en senderos de superficie natural no motorizados designados, incluido el singletrack, a menos que lo autorice específicamente el administrador del terreno.
Requiere un etiquetado destacado para todas las bicicletas eléctricas que contengan el número de clasificación, la velocidad máxima asistida y la potencia del motor.
La servidumbre de recreación entre la ciudad de Bellingham y Galbraith Tree Farm (GTF) nombra al WMBC como el administrador de recreación, sin embargo, el WMBC no establece una política de acceso. Desde el primer Acuerdo de Uso Recreativo en Galbraith en 2002, la política del administrador de la tierra siempre ha sido el acceso no motorizado.
Actualmente, ni la Ciudad ni el GTF están imponiendo el uso de e-mtb en la montaña, sin embargo, hemos estado monitoreando cualquier uso negligente o posibles conflictos. Estamos discutiendo con el abogado de la Ciudad sobre el acceso a e-mtb (tanto actual como futuro) y cómo se verá en Galbraith. Hemos propuesto una solución a corto plazo para permitir a los ciclistas con discapacidades el acceso completo a los senderos en las e-mtb y un proyecto piloto potencial para otros usos de las e-mtb en el futuro.
Actualmente, las E-MTB se pueden usar fuera de la carretera en los siguientes lugares en los condados de Whatcom y Skagit:
Singletrack del Parque Estatal Larrabee donde las bicicletas analógicas ya están permitidas.
Sendero motorizado Canyon Ridge (Servicio Forestal de EE. UU.)
Vías de acceso motorizadas abiertas al público en terrenos del DNR.
Área de OHV de Walker Valley
North Mountain en Darrington (condado de Snohomish)
Algunas preguntas abiertas que afectan las decisiones políticas actuales y futuras sobre el acceso a E-MTB son:
¿Cómo cambiará la tecnología E-MTB emergente actual en los próximos años?
¿Otros grupos de usuarios de senderos estarán más o menos inclinados a apoyar el acceso de bicicletas de montaña impulsado por humanos en los senderos debido al mayor acceso de E-MTB?
¿Cómo se harán cumplir los límites de velocidad y la activación de potencia de la E-MTB?
¿Las mayores velocidades de E-MTB conducirán a más conflictos entre usuarios y grupos?
¿Abogará el WMBC por el acceso a E-MTB? Si no es así, ¿quién representará a los usuarios de E-MTB?
El WMBC continúa monitoreando de cerca la tecnología emergente E-MTB y su uso en todo el país y en todo el mundo. Trabajaremos con los administradores de tierras locales en la política de E-MTB para asegurarnos de que tenga sentido para todos los usuarios de senderos.
The recreation easement between the City of Bellingham and Galbraith Tree Farm (GTF) names the WMBC as the recreation manager, however, the WMBC does not set policy for access.
Since the first Recreational Use Agreement on Galbraith in 2002,
the land manager’s policy has always been non-motorized access.
Currently, neither the City or GTF are enforcing e-mtb use on the mountain, however we have been monitoring for any negligent use or potential conflicts. We are in discussion with the City's attorney regarding e-mtb access (both current and future) and what that will look like on Galbraith. We have proposed a near-term solution of permitting riders with disabilities full trail access on e-mtb's and a potential pilot project for other e-mtb use in the future.
ISSUES AFFECTING E-MTB ACCESS DECISIONS
How will the current emerging E-MTB technology change over the next few years?
Will other trail user groups be more or less inclined to support human-powered mountain bike access on trails due to increased E-MTB access?
How will E-MTB power activation and speed limits be enforced?
Will E-MTB’s increased speeds lead to more user-group conflicts?
Will the WMBC advocate for E-MTB access? If not, who will represent E-MTB users?
We continues to closely monitor the emerging E-MTB technology and its use across the country and around the world. We will work with local land managers on E-MTB policy to ensure it makes sense for all trail users.
ADAPTIVE MOUNTAIN BIKING
Adaptive Mountain Biking (aMTB), sometimes referred to as “off-road para-cycling”, encompasses a broad range of riders who typically cannot ride a standard mountain bike and require adapted equipment and trails to suit their physical, intellectual, neurological and sensory abilities. There are varying adaptive mountain bikes available around the world, each designed to meet a riders specific need. Readily established adaptive equipment includes: handcycles, recumbent leg-cycles, and tandem bikes. (Description from Break the Boundary).
Recreation is for everyone! The AIROW Project is local non-profit devoted to adaptive and inclusive recreation in Whatcom County. They provide events, programming, and resources for aMTBs - check them out and support them here.
Trailforks has a new aMTB category for trails on their maps to make it easier for adaptive bikers to find trails that are suitable for them. On Galbraith Mountain, we have widened the south side entrance to accommodate aMTBers and are working on identifying trails and loops that will work with adaptive bikes.