This action appears to be predicated on one constituent’s complaint which Metro contends is inaccurate. Parks, Energy, & Environment Committee will meet Tuesday, March 16th to discuss.
UPDATE April 23rd: County Board votes 10-8 against the resolution: it fails!
We applaud the Milwaukee County Board for its reasonable approach to the issue for demonstrating and trust in the Milwaukee County Parks Department. The Parks Department should be commended for its work balancing protection and preservation of our parks with its mission to create parks for all in Milwaukee County to enjoy, and doing so with limited resources.
One item that this debate has brought to light is that the County has not had an opportunity to update its Trails Plan since 2007. Given the increase in popularity of trail use and mountain biking, and the positive impact this sport has on youth, the Bike Fed believes it is past time to renew this critical plan to ensure there is greater access to trails throughout the County for all citizens of Milwaukee County. We would be happy to assist the County and all stakeholders in this effort.
Thank you to everyone who reached out to their supervisors, volunteered time, spread the word and more. Another update may come in 3 months if the sponsors of the resolution decide to edit it and bring to the board again.
Updates March 16th.
View the entire Parks, Energy, and Environment Committee meeting from March 16th here. The discussion of file 21-207 begins around the 30 minute mark. The outcome was not ideal in our opinion. The Committee members voted unanimously to discuss again at next month’s meeting while a site visit to the Kegel-Alpha trails can be coordinated for the County Supervisors to see the situation on the ground – in person.
Speakers today urging the Committee to vote down this attack on bike access were:
- Kirsten Finn, Wisconsin Bike Fed
- Amelia Kegel, Wheel and Sprocket
- James Davies, Bublr Bikes
- Marty Weigel, Metro Mountain Bikers
- Willie Karidis, Rails to Trails
- Tony Giron, Milwaukee County Trails Council President
- Jay Yanko, Colectivo MTB Team Member
- Ian Martin, President of Mandel Group
There were 3 people speaking in favor of the resolution or some sort of amended resolution with similar sanctions on MTB trails.
The next meeting of the committee is April 13th, 9am
In the meantime we continue to suggest you reach out to your County Supervisor to express your concern about this micro-managed, anti-bike proposed legislation. Bike Fed and partners will update you all as necessary as we work to create as much access to enjoy riding bikes in Milwaukee County as possible.
Original Post from March 11th Below
Since File 21- 207 will be on the agenda, Metro is carefully monitoring the situation. This is not a public meeting, but the Chairman has stated that limited public input will be accepted. We ask that mountain bikers contact their County Supervisors prior to the 16th, especially those on the Parks, Energy, & Environment Committee. The members of this committee include:
You can find your Supervisor’s contact info here https://www.findyourcountysupervisor.com/search.aspx
Some background on the situation
Metro Mountain Bikers was established in 1994 with the twin goals of protecting and promoting environmentally responsible mountain biking opportunities in the Milwaukee metro area. Since that time Metro has worked closely with Milwaukee County Parks to develop and maintain trails throughout the County; trails that are available to walkers as well as bikers. There are no single use mountain biking trails in Milwaukee. General trail maintenance is all performed by volunteers.
Metro adheres to best practice when it comes to trail building and maintenance. Over the years Metro has partnered with Milwaukee County Parks several times to bring in trail building trainers from both the International Mountain Biking Association and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to train park/recreation staff and volunteers. This has resulted in an increased number of professionals and volunteers who appreciate the positive impact of positive trail building and increased government requests for trail building. Milwaukee County Parks asked Metro to build the MTB trails at River Glen. Adjacent counties and communities are encouraging mountain bike trail development in their parks in recognition of the value that good trails add. The mountain biker image has grown from one of a reckless trail shredder to that of valued park supporter and trail protector.
Trail development is very labor intensive beginning with the planning phase. Prior to trail development, Metro works closely with Parks Staff to assess potential sites in terms of need, suitability, and impact on the environment. Potential sites are walked several times to determine the most appropriate trail placement that considers impact on flora and potential for erosion. It usually takes two years or more from the concept phase to the point that ground work begins. Over the years Metro, using only hand tools, has built over 20 miles of trail for mountain biking in Milwaukee County.
The Kegel-Alpha mountain biking trails were the first approved trails for mountain biking in Milwaukee County. Originally named “Alpha” by then Parks Director Sue Black, the name was modified to honor the memory of a great local bicycle supporter – Chris Kegel. The trails proved to be very popular over the years. They have also seen a great deal of change due to rising water levels and, more significantly, changes in the management/ownership of the property. The development of The Rock eliminated miles of trail which negatively impacted interest in trails and reduced the potential to hold biking events. The remaining trails are frequently closed during the biking season due to water issues. Metro intends to revitalize the Kegel-Alpha trails by rerouting wet trail sections and by expanding the trail footprint to restore some of the lost mileage.
Metro has worked closely with Milwaukee County Parks to plan for the Kegel-Alpha trail changes. There have been numerous site visits with Parks staff to review and adjust the route. Natural Areas staff conducted a three season review of the flora to ensure that high value plant colonies are not
endangered by the new routes. A well attended public hearing was held on site at the Ross Lodge in. In addition to building new trails, Parks has requested, and Metro has agreed to close some current hiking trails to better protect the integrity of the Magan Woods. County Parks granted
permission for Metro to begin trail building in the fall of 2020.
At this time trail work has been put on hold both for weather and because of a citizen complaint that has prompted a County Supervisor to draft File 21-207 which would subject all trail building to the review of the County Board of Supervisors, possibly put a moratorium on mountain biking at Kegel-Alpha, and impose other restrictions. File 21-207 will be presented to the Parks, Energy, & Environment Committee for consideration at its March 16th meeting. This Committee can accept or reject the File. Should the File be forwarded to the full County Board, trail development would at best be delayed or possibly stopped.
This action appears to be predicated on one constituent’s complaint which Metro contends is inaccurate. Metro also believes that it is inappropriate for the concerns of one or a few persons to override the access of other citizens to public property. Furthermore, passage of the File would be a classic case of micromanagement by the County Board. The County employs professionals to manage the parks. They should be left to do their jobs.
Metro recognizes that the residents of the area around the Kegel – Alpha Trails have experienced considerable change over the last 5 years due to developments at The Rock. They now live in a busier and noisier environment that many must see as a downgrade from their previous environment. They have lost something to The Rock just as Metro lost miles of trail. However, it is misguided for Metro to be smeared with their enmity toward The Rock. The Rock is relatively immune to the neighbors’
complaints and actions, but mountain bike access appears to be low hanging fruit.
In the meantime, ride on, be courteous to other trail users, and be vigilant. We can never take what we have for granted.