Pueblo Canyon Bike Projects Conflict With Los Alamos County Comprehensive Plan

Los Alamos

Dear Community, County Staff, Council and Boards,

I have taken some time to review the County’s Comprehensive Plan and its associated Future Land Use map:   https://www.losalamosnm.us/cms/one.aspx?portalId=6435810&pageId=12175965  I believe that many aspects of the proposed mountain biking projects to be sited in Pueblo, Acid and Walnut Canyons are explicitly prohibited by the zoning of these areas. (For maps and details of these plans, see https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1fMKPf5Sty3ML7AuWaeeQflLlBpz6XlZT?usp=sharing)

The Comp Plan was a big undertaking, involved a great deal of community input over many months, and was intended to be the guiding document for future development. The Plan repeatedly emphasizes open space preservation, and states: “Nowhere is there greater agreement within the community than in the value of keeping all the County’s open space protected and accessible.”  and ” The majority of survey respondents (80%) did not favor development in the canyons or on canyon walls. … 89% of survey respondents favored the preservation of historic, environmental, and cultural landscapes.”

The entirety of Pueblo/Acid/Walnut Canyon open space, from Diamond Drive eastward (with the exception of a chunk of “Urban Reserve” [for business development] north of Entrada/Eastgate, and the sewage treatment plant), is zoned as  “Open Space — Passive”. “This … includes lands that remain primarily in their natural state, but can accommodate various kinds of low-impact recreation such as hiking, biking and equestrian trails.”  And further defines:  “Passive Open Space: Open space that is essentially unimproved and set aside, dedicated, designated, or reserved for public or private use or for the use and enjoyment of owners or occupants.”

I believe the “Bike Skills Park” (with fencing, porta-potties, trash bins, bulldozed paths, constructed jumps, etc.), “PCT 7 Mile Trail” (which requires widening of the historic Ranch School Trail) and “Roundabout to Aquatic Connection” (with “significant rock blasting” and a large bridge across Pueblo Canyon as options), are incompatible with this “Open Space — Passive” designation. (The NICA “Race Event Areas” fall outside the Future Land Use Map, but with parking planned for 700 cars, bridges, camping, staging areas, etc.,  will destroy many acres of native woodlands.) They propose substantial development and disruption/destruction of the natural character of the canyon environment and instead fall under “Open Space- Active” designation which  “includes public and private recreational uses of a generally open nature, with certain structures related to the recreational uses allowed.”

The Los Alamos Community has already decided if and how Pueblo/Acid/Walnut Canyons should be developed (basically, not at all.) We have looked forward and recognized that changes to our open spaces are often irreversible. Our undeveloped open spaces are a limited, precious resource, and we should respect and conserve them for the natural qualities they possess (rather than eyeing them for  current “economic benefit”, “recreational amenities”, tourism, etc.) for enjoyment by all. The proposed projects will substantially alter the natural landscape of these areas to provide developments for those involved in the current mountain biking trend. What will future generations want?

These projects violate the spirit and the letter of the Comprehensive Plan, the codified desires of the Los Alamos Community, and should be rejected.