There’s a way to accommodate all gulch users | Letter

May 07, 2014

Editor, The Beacon:

Oh, woe unto us. I really didn't see this coming, but perhaps I should have. So much rancor about vandalism and what's the right thing to do with Japanese Gulch, now that the city owns it.

I was one of the strongest supporters of the move to purchase Japanese Gulch in order to preserve it as a wild place, a recreation area, and a natural buffer from the industrialization and residentialization of all the adjacent lands.

I love the area.  I've ridden my mountain bike through there for the past 17 years en route to work and just for fun.  And then Jon Boyce came on the scene...

I hadn't realized that some of us Mukilteans had thought that the purchase of Japanese Gulch lands would logically lead us to restore it to a federally protected wilderness-designation status, devoid of all trails that were cut or created without the aid of an approval mechanism that included Mr. Boyce's arborist.

I do have to give Jon and his ilk some credit, though – I believe that he should be represented when there's a chance to create or review the Japanese Gulch Master Plan.

I also believe that I should have a seat at that table, as should the BMXers, the hikers, the equestrians, the trail runners, the dog walkers, the paint-ball warriors, the campers and the gardeners (oh, yeah, and the deer, owls, coyotes, prey and predators).

I think that there's a way to accommodate most of us simultaneously. In fact, I think that the gulch will benefit from the establishment and enforcement of trail-development policies.

The Paradise Valley county park was developed following the guidance of the Mountain Bike Trails Association, and it works well in the rainy season, as well as the drought.  With similar guidance and an enthusiastic volunteer work force, ours could be a fantastic course.

The gulch has undoubtedly been a no-man's land where usage has lacked planning and litter control. On the other hand, those trails are a blast – a great mix of single-track technical areas and flat-out high-speed cruising lanes.

The BMX trails are well thought out and look to be very challenging (i.e., fun), although I don't have the guts or the young bones to take a run at it.  I can assure you that the BMX course has been there for at least five years, and kudos to the kids who developed it – out of obvious earshot and eyesight from the main trails.  It could be improved with proper drainage.

Regarding Mr. Boyce's "wetlands," I hear that there's a benefit to "swamps," but to me they're just inconvenient mud bogs that the trails sometimes go through. How do we define "wetland," anyway?

If we're concerned about restoring wetlands up near 19th Court (BMX area), it seems logical that we should also restore the entire area that comprises the dog park to its former grandeur as a messy swamp.

OK, just to be clear, I do not advocate the removal of the dog park – I just seek to point out how ridiculous a waste of resources it would be to un-do all the BMX construction just to restore a tiny muddy area.

Let's instead think before we act. Let's do a thorough analysis and get extensive inputs from the users of the gulch. If you have inputs for consideration, I'd suggest you contact the Parks & Arts Commission.


Kurt Roberts,


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