Mr. Riter --

I have followed the recent message board posts regarding proposed work on the Squirrel Gap Trail in the Pisgah Ranger District with some alarm. Though I am new to the Pisgah area, I have been able to enjoy many rides on this trail, and look forward to many more in the years to come.

I reviewed the documents regarding the SOW for the trail, and have concerns about the level of work which has been agreed upon. Squirrel Gap is meant to be an experience, clearly one of the highlights of mountain biking in the Pisgah District. In many ways, it defines what folks have come to expect of Pisgah -- locals who are blessed to have access every day, and those from far away who travel here perhaps once in a lifetime looking for that "epic," memorable ride.

While there is clearly some need for work to make the trail more sustainable in the long term, the use of machines to effect the cleanup will ruin the character of this trail. When reviewing the trail log, I was alarmed at several of the proposed "fixes" -- it would seem the Class II designation has suddenly changed with respect to Squirrel Gap to mean a dirt path akin to a paved greenway, only limited in width. This is clearly not the intended use of this trail -- I can see that, even being relatively new to the area.

I am writing to ask that you take into consideration the requests from concerned users in the area as you develop the final action plan with regards to Squirrel Gap Trail, and that you work with the Forest Service to revise the trail log to be more in keeping with the trail's character. This would mean not using machine work to "maintain" the trail, and that where possible you preserve the experience that we have all come to know and enjoy.

Thank you,

Chris Strout
Hendersonville, NC