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Trail system ‘great choice’ for park

I am responding to the commentary “Preserving Washington Park must be a priority moving forward” (Dec. 5). As a lifelong resident of the Warren area and a person who enjoys the outdoors, I agree that Washington Park is a cherished resource. The view from the park is a grand reminder of the beauty of our town and surrounding forest.

Conservation and preservation of public lands is extremely important to me. With all due respect and consideration for people who make a living from the oil and timber industries, if the question is between developing or preserving a natural area I will almost always lean in favor of preservation.

I am not here to say we should build trails at Washington Park or not. I am in favor of preservation and education. I am just not sure Washington Park is the place. I think the idea of capping existing wells and turning Washington Park into nature reserve might be a pipe dream.

I take exception to the writer’s attitude toward mountain bikes. Mountain bikers are not “cavalier scofflaws.” Anyone with this view needs to take a hike. I mean it. Go hike the Trails at Jakes Rocks on foot.

Do it on a weekend in mid to late summer in order to maximize the possibility of interacting with multiple riders and groups of riders. There are bad apples in every bunch, but I promise you, most will take great care when passing you. Even yielding so you can pass safely. In the last four years I have become an avid mountain biker. Before that I was a trail runner.

My first Jake’s Rocks experience was running on the trails. Back then I almost didn’t know what a mountain bike was. I might have even believed you if you told me mountain bikers are a danger to themselves and others. I remember my first time going for a run on the trails feeling a sense of intrepid insecurity. I wondered if I would be welcome or even safe running on Mountain Bike Trails. I was pleasantly surprised to find most mountain bikers met me with respect and consideration, often yielding so I could pass. These positive interactions played a big role in getting me into mountain biking.

I do not think a small town could ever go wrong by adding more outdoor recreation opportunities. I still wonder even doubt if people would want to make changes to Washington Park at all — or leave it as the serine overlook and picnic spot that it is. If any changes are made at Washington Park, a small trail system could be a great choice. If done right trails have very little impact on the environment. In my opinion the best trails will move with the land and embrace its beauty.

Consider that mountain biking has great health benefits, both mental and physical. It is a good way to keep kids out of trouble. I imagine being a kid in Warren that wants to ride Mountain Bike Trails but can’t make it to Trails at Jake’s Rocks. But maybe I could get my bike up to Washington Park.

Michael Campbell is a Warren resident.

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