Mountain biking is coming to Caliente. Patrick Kell, Regional Director for the Southwest Region of the International Mountain Bicycling Association based in Boulder, Colo., made a presentation Feb. 2 of the initial trail system designs that have been developed in the mountains surrounding the City of Caliente.
Before a standing room only crowd of interested persons and BLM staff and a few mountain bike enthusiasts from the Southern Nevada Mountain Bike chapter of IMBA, and other IMBA staff, in the conference room at the BLM offices in Caliente, Kell displayed the map and the trails that are being proposed. He spent the better part of an hour explaining the three sections where the trails are located. About 38 miles are involved all totaled: 12.4 miles are for beginners, 18.42 miles for intermediate, and 7.12 miles for advanced riders.
The three sections are at Kershaw-Ryan State Park, a larger section beginning at Barnes Canyon, near the Teepee Rocks area with a long intermediate and advanced rider connector between them, and a small section in the east mountains behind Caliente.
Caliente Mayor Stana Hurlburt said they have been working on the project for the past couple of years.
Kell explained IMBA is interested in the Caliente area, “primarily because of the landscape and the small community here. There is a small, close-knit, tight downtown area, and you have public land really close by. It gives us an opportunity to develop world class trails that are going to be really close to the community with easy access where families and kids and local residents can get out and ride. But it also means that visitors can come and stay in town and have all the amenities that they need, but still get out on an amazing trail system. It’s a small community with public land all around it, so it’s really good.”
Some of those who attended asked if the mountain bike trails would cause any impact on existing trails, concerned that some might be closed.
Shirley Johnson of the BLM Caliente office said, “No, the existing trails would be left open. While the mountain bike trails might share some of the existing trails in certain places, none of them would be closed.”, Lincoln County Regional Development Authority and the Room Tax Board, was spent getting an initial design completed by some IMBA designers last October and November.
The next stage Kell said needs to be undertaken is the permitting work with the federal NEPA process, state requirements and city regulations, etc.
Hurlburt said the Caliente City Council approved the city to submit a request for grant funding of $495,794 to the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act for the Caliente Mountain Bike Trails System. She said, “Our main goal is to connect with the BLM trails at Super Park, and have a skill park and trailhead there, and accommodate the Kershaw-Ryan trails that will come out on Spring Heights.”
She said she was going to make a grant presentation to SNPLMA next week, “and if we get the money, the project could start within a year.”
Johnson said BLM has also applied for about $2 million in capital improvement monies, “but that will have to go through a long process and we won’t hear until December.”
Regarding maintenance work on the trails Kell said when trails are properly built, maintenance is a lot less needed. He thought perhaps Youth Corp workers, or local volunteers, could do that work in the summers.
It will take about two years, Kell thought, if all goes well, before the permitting process is complete, trails are built, and ready for public use.
He said the people who are typical mountain bikers and their families are usually quite affluent and, “Normally day visitors spend about $97 per person during the time they are in the area. An overnight visitor averages about $227.”
For example, he said visitors to the trail system around Fruita, Colo., “bring in $25 million a year to the local economy, 15 percent of the annual budget of Mesa County.”
“Caliente has the chance to build a world class mountain biking system from scratch,” Kell said. Hurlbert said there is a lot of local interest as well.
Kell said he has already been approached by about six companies that would be interested in opening shops in Caliente, including one person interested in a bike shop in town.