State removes illegal biking trails, jumps from public land
By Denise Whitaker
SEATTLE -- Concerns about lawsuits have prompted the state to rip apart a number of illegal mountain bike trails and jumps in Whatcom County.
When the State Department of Natural Resources banned off-road vehicles from the land four years ago, mountain bikers stepped in and began building jumps, trails and bridges over creeks. The bikers have created roughly 50 jumps and more than five miles of trails, and department officials are ready to give them the boot.
"This is public land, it's open for public use, but it's not open for public abuse," said Mark Mauren of the DNR.
According to Mauren, the daredevil bikers could hurt themselves and sue the state.
"They see this as a fantastic opportunity, and I see it as a government employee as a $2.1 million dollar lawsuit that we as citizens would need to foot the bill for," he said.
There's also the issue of environmental impact on the area.
"There are liabilities we're trying to address here," Mauren said. "There are environmental issues we're trying to address here."
Mountain biker Matt Shelton helped build the trails and said he knew this day would come.
"So, yes, these structures were put in place to mitigate any negative impact on the landscape, but in the same regard they are all illegitimate," he said.
Even though the state's taking down the trail network, mountain bikers are still welcome to ride the forest service roads. And DNR says it's working with legislators and the mountain biking community to move forward and develop areas for bikers to ride.
Signs warning bikers not to use the illegal trails will soon be posted, and anyone caught breaking the law will be ticketed and fined.
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Riders came from all over last weekend to enjoy the trail network, here's a look at their last weekend at the North Fork trails