uman Powered Trails, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose mission is: “To develop and maintain first class sustainable and environmentally correct, human-powered, shared use trails for the La Crosse, WI region."
|Written by Gene Roberts|
|Monday, 14 June 2010 10:57|
A lot of activity has taken place since my last update. Following HPT’s testimony in opposition to Administrative Code NR 52 to the Assembly’s Committee on Natural Resources a meeting was arranged by Representative Spencer Black to directly address the situation on the La Crosse Bluffland Protection Project, specifically the Department of Natural Resources action to cease and reclaim the trail construction on the Mathy quarry tract of land. This meeting was the result not only of HPT’s appearance before the Assembly’s Committee but also because of extensive lobbying of our local state representatives.
On April 27, 2010 a meeting was held in the office of Representative Black. Those in attendance were Representatives Black and Huebsch, Paul Heinen, DNR Policy Initiatives Advisor, Tim Andryk, DNR legal counsel, Mary Rose Teves, Natural Resources Program manager and Craig Thompson, West Central Regional Land Leader, and Larry Kirch, City of La Crosse Director of Planning. Marvin Wanders and I represented HPT. Representative Black was the facilitator of the meeting and asked many probing questions. During the course of the meeting each group was given the opportunity to provide their organizations respective position regarding the history of the LBPP and trail development on the Mathy tract. At the conclusion of the meeting the department announced the Secretary of the DNR had scheduled an internal meeting for May 5, 2010 to discuss the Mathy tract and protection of the habitat on this property. HPT requested to be in attendance but this request was denied. It has been reported that additional meetings that included the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources were held.
On June 1, 2010... a meeting was held at the La Crosse office of the DNR. Those in attendance were representatives of the DNR, the City of La Crosse, The Mississippi Valley Conservancy, and Human Powered Trail. It was at this meeting that we were advised that the original decision terminating trail development and reclamation of the existing trail was to stand. What following was a lively discussion regarding the original intent and the future of the LBPP Master Plan, the intent and legal ramification of trail development on properties purchased with Knowles-Nelson Stewardship funds, and the responsibility of each party based on this decision. The City of La Crosse Planner and the Mississippi Valley Conservancy expressed their opposition to this decision. HPT maintained its position that the best way to protect the resources is to direct the user groups away from the sensitive areas. In the end HPT proposed a compromise that would allow the unfinished trail to be completed with an understanding that dialog would continue with all parties and that it may become necessary to revisit the LBPP Master Plan. Mr. Thompson agreed to have our request reconsidered and a meeting is to be arranged in the very near future.
To be complete it is important to inform you of the status of the Administrative Code NR 52. Following public comment to the Senate Committee on the Environment and the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources both committees returned the proposal to the DNR for rework. The issues for rework were primarily language changes and there were no cycling related changes made to the code. NR 52 has been reworked and was resubmitted to the Natural Resources Board which approved the code unanimously and has forwarded it on to the legislature. With no further objections it will likely be approved and will replace the current interim rule that addresses a process that allows the DNR to prohibit one of the nature-based outdoor activities on Stewardship land. Although we are disappointed that the cycling inclusion language was not added to this administrative code we do feel that our efforts were not wasted. In reality we have exceeded our expectations. Human Powered Trails are well known within the DNR, the state, and with our local legislative representatives. We have laid the foundation for future ventures.
HPT leadership remains committed to our mission “To develop and maintain first class sustainable and environmentally correct, human-powered, shared use trails for the La Crosse, WI region.". We are continually evaluation the resources available for trail and organizational growth. Through our efforts HPT has become recognized as leaders in the state by the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, peer cycling groups, the cycling industry, IMBA, and the Department of Natural Resources. HPT continually monitors the legislative landscape and is considering additional lobbying efforts that could lead to changes in existing law to expand cycling opportunities throughout the state.
We are working for YOU and our community! Remember: YOU are HPT!