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Bureau of Land Management approves expansion of Phil’s World

Decision allows for 22 more miles of trails

The Bureau of Land Management’s Tres Rios Field Office released a decision Wednesday to expand Phil’s World, a nationally recognized mountain bike trail system six miles east of Cortez.

The decision includes adding 22.5 miles of sustainable single track, non-motorized trails and adding two new trailheads and parking areas.

“Phil’s World is one of the top 20 mountain biking destinations on BLM-managed lands,” said Connie Clementson, Tres Rios Field manager. “Its proximity to Cortez also makes it an ideal place to implement the BLM Recreation Strategy, which emphasizes connecting communities while facilitating access to America’s backyard.”

Of the trail alternatives considered, the BLM chose a modified Alternative C, which has a larger buffer zone of 355 acres to protect the nest of a golden eagle, a federally protected species. The expanded trails on 17 acres are designed to avoid other sensitive wildlife areas, yet still allow for trail connections between the Simon Draw and Highline areas.

“A lot of adjustments were made to protect cultural resources and avoid wildlife impacts,” said Jeff Christenson, BLM recreation planner. “It is a good mix of trails for different biking ability levels, and there are good opportunities for hikers.”

The new parking areas and trailheads will be located off County Roads L and M.

The BLM partnered with the Southwest Colorado Cycling Association in developing the trail expansion project. The new trails are designed to International Mountain Biking Association standards and are designed to protect natural resources and cultural sites.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to work with the BLM on this important project,” said Dani Gregory, president, Southwest Colorado Cycling Association. “Expanding the continuous, epic flow single-track is a perpetual resource for the local and visiting riders and our community as a whole. SWCCA members are anxious to help build the trails and ride them.”

The original trail expansion proposal dates to 2004, but planning did not kick into high gear until 2013. The area currently has about 27 miles of trail.

Work on the new trails is scheduled to begin in spring 2018 by SWCCA, Southwest Youth Conservation Corps and trail volunteers working with the BLM. Construction will generally progress from south to north, with highest priority given to trails between the Ledges area and Road L.

Phil’s World saw 17,754 visitors between October 2014 and September 2015, according to trail counter data. Annually, the Tres Rios Field Office contributes over $94 million to the local economy with more than $40 million earned from recreational activities on BLM managed lands in Southwest Colorado.

To learn more about the project, go to http://bit.ly/PhilsWorld2.

jmimiaga@the-journal.com

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