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March 2001

Mountain Bikers Caught Building Illegal Trail

By Elena Belsky

Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS) rangers caught three mountain bikers in the act of building an illegal trail, on February 4, 2001. The partially built, illegal trail was discovered earlier in January by Rangers who subsequently kept watch on the site.

PRNS spokesperson John Dell'Osso confirmed that Michael More, a well known mountain bike advocate associated with the Bicycle Trails Council of Marin and former Marin County Open Space Trails Committee member (as the mountain bike representative), was involved in the illegal trail building activities. When contacted by the Coastal Post, Mr. More declined to be interviewed, and referred questions to his attorney, criminal defense lawyer Doug Horngrad who was unavailable for an "updated" quote by press timeÑoriginally Mr. Horngrad had stated he "would not comment on rumors."

On February 6th, Michael More submitted his resignation from the Trails Committee to Fran Brigmann, director of County Open Space, Trails and Parks Department. More did not mention the illegal trail incident in his resignation letter, but expressed frustration with the process: "I don't think I have been effective in generating support for bicyclists and sharing trails amongst committee members."

According to Frank Dean, PRNS Chief Ranger, the illegal trail construction caused property damage in four park jurisdictions; Golden Gate National Recreation Area, National Park Service lands, Marin Municipal Water District open space and Samuel P. Taylor State Park.

The four mile illegal mountain bike trail was carved out of the Bolinas Ridge, and runs from near Olema to Samuel P. Taylor Park. Damage to the Parks and Open Space areas included cutting small trees and limbs, dirt grading and bank excavation, etc. A concern for any kind of "off trail" activities, especially active construction practices that cause noise, erosion and degradation of resources, is the potential of disturbing threatened and endangered species and their habitat.

The entire Bolinas Ridge mixed hardwood forest area is home to the Federally listed Northern Spotted Owl; the streams are home to Threatened Coho Salmon and Steelhead Trout; and there are sensitive grasslands and native plants throughout the region.

While none of the violators were arrested, and no charges have yet been filed, PRNS Chief Ranger Dean commented, "All resources are concerned, and will be meeting with attorneys to decide a course of action... It looks like we will be proceeding to prosecute."

The Marin Independent Journal quoted Marin Municipal Water District chairman Jack Gibson as saying "I'm outraged" and "Whoever did this, I'm all for prosecuting the case against them."

Multiple legal actions could come to pass, as the lands affected are subject to County, State, Federal and Endangered Species laws. Names are being withheld, as the investigation is ongoing. This is a developing story; more information will be available as the various jurisdictional law enforcement officials pursue their investigations, determine legal ramifications and press charges.

(The County Open Space Trails Committee has a seat available for a bike representative; if interested call Kallie with MCOSD at 499-6387 for an application.)

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