The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is recommending the closure of portions of the Over Lode Trail at Blue Mound State Park in Dane and Iowa Counties, 30 minutes west of Madison, WI.
We need the rapid input of all mountain bikers, hikers and friends of the Blue Mound State Park about the closure of this trail!
The DNR will review all public comments and it is very important they hear from ALL mountain bikers and other singletrack trail users regarding the proposed closures of Over Lode Trail. Please write to them and tell them you want to see Over Lode Trail enhanced and preserved in Blue Mound State Park. Background information and potential talking points are presented below.
These comments must be received by December 16th, (12/16/2015).
A master plan for BMSP was completed in 1984. Two variances to the plan have been created; one in 2000 to allow expanded mountain biking and snowshoeing. In December, 2014, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board authorized the Department to undertake a master plan amendment process at Blue Mound State Park for the purpose of establishing recreational trail uses and locations. You can find the current proposed plans here.
A part of the state park on the eastern side is known as Pleasure Valley, which once contained a downhill ski operation and included some service roads for that operation. Pleasure Valley is a distinctively appreciated resource with a deeply wooded gorge, steep rolling hills, and a small stream. It has been used by silent sports advocates heavily since the 1990s, and the park master plan was amended in 2002 to further identify some new cross-country skiing, hiking, snowshoeing and biking trails.
The Draft Master Plan Amendment proposes to eliminate some of the bike trail in Pleasure Valley because the area has been categorized as a sensitive ecological area. The document cites two papers in support of the position as a sensitive ecological area. Of concern is that both studies were done on trails near large urban areas and the trails were much wider than the Over Lode Trail.
Capital Off Road PathFinders (CORP), the local IMBA chapter, has responded to the DNR’s statement regarding sustainability by working on alternative trail routes to address concerns about grade.
Please Tell the Wisconsin DNR
- Over Lode and Pleasure Valley trails are a key part of the entire trail experience at Blue Mound State Park and the system needs to be preserved and expanded to enhance the visitor numbers and the trail experience. These trails are an important recreational asset for residents and visitors to Dane County and provide a trail experience much different from those in nearby urban areas.
- The use of these trails generates income for the Wisconsin DNR through the park fee system.
- The DNR should work closely with the local volunteer group CORP, an IMBA chapter, to address any concerns regarding the Over Lode trail’s sustainability, and not close the trail.
- Over 47% of public comments regarding the Plan were to “expand/improve/maintain mountain bike trails.”
- A recurring public comment theme from the initial public input was “Maintain and improve the existing mountain bike trails at Blue Mound State Park and expand the trail network. Blue Mound needs more beginner or family-friendly mountain bike trails to make it a place for all mountain bike riding abilities. “
- With the lack of snow cover, hiking and off-road biking tend to become the primary recreational use within the Pleasure Valley portion of the Weeping Rock Trail (Visitor Use Trail Monitoring, 2015-2015).
- The additional proposed trails complement the existing system and will help to create a larger visitor base for Blue Mound State Park.
- Two of the routes on Over Lode Trail are ranked in the top 20 routes for the state of Wisconsin by users, based on stars and views.
You can find the current proposed plans here.
Please contact the Wisconsin DNR by 12/16/2015 via email or U.S. mail at:
Parks District Supervisor
3911 Fish Hatchery Road
Fitchburg, WI 53711