File photo
Mountain bike trails that may someday look like this are under construction now in the Barnes Canyon area of Caliente. It is the first phase of a multi-phase project to bring mountain bike enthusiasts to Lincoln County.

Construction has started on the non-motorized mountain bike trails around the City of Caliente that have been planned since the fall of 2012.

Jake Powell with the Arizona-based American Conservation Experience gave a presentation on the project to the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners in Pioche April 3.

The Bureau of Land Management has moved forward, in conjunction with the Intermountain Bicycle Association, to plan and design mountain bike trails. Powell said his organization was awarded the bid by the BLM to construct the first phases of the trails. They broke ground April 5.

Powell explained American Conservation Experience is somewhat like what the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s was. “We’re the modern equivalent of that, albeit non-profit.”

During the Great Depression years, the CCC was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families as part of the President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Originally for young men ages 18–25, it was eventually expanded to young men ages 17–28. The program provided unskilled manual labor jobs, that related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local government. It was useful to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression. At the same time, it implemented a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000.

About 30 miles of trails are planned on BLM lands while approximately 10 miles more are being planned in Kershaw-Ryan State Park.

A series of loops, approximately 20 miles total are to extend from Barnes Canyon along Clover Creek, and a 10-mile connecting trail running east-west from there to Kershaw-Ryan.

The trails are intended to be for mountain bikes only and are not to be used by horse and rider or any motorized vehicle.

In his comments, Powell said the workers for the program are from all around the country and looking to improve their skills and build their resume so they can move forward into jobs with the BLM, the forest service or some other federal land agency. “They’re not experts in a given field, they come to us to learn, and we’ll train them to work hard. It’s physical work.”

He said, “Trail building is what ACE is well known for both foot trails and mountain biking trails in the west, and in North Carolina.”

He explained that the first loop will be a trail for beginning mountain bikers about four miles in length that should take about six weeks. “Our crews normally work on site, staying in spike camps on the trail and work 8-10 hours days.”

A base office will be set up in Caliente for the project supervisor, crew leader and a few other necessary administrative personnel. Powell said the initial stage will be just a short period to about May 19, then come back in the fall. “In summer, things dry out too much, and we’re just pushing dust around.” Later in the fall again, and the spring of 2018 will be when the project continues.

Powell praised the BLM for the advance work they have already done. “We’re going to be able to step into an extremely well designed, well thought out, shovel ready, trail network with all the clearances and permits having already been obtained.”