Our Outdoor Spaces Are One of Our Greatest Resources
Recently, the Rogue Valley Mountain Bike Association (RVMBA) conducted a Q&A for all the local candidates. I was late with my submission, so I’m not sure it will be posted. The questions, however, had me thinking a lot about the Ashland Watershed and outdoor recreation. So I want to share a bit of my thoughts. My response to the specific questions can be found below as well.
Let me start by saying there is not a day that goes by that I don’t appreciate how fortunate we are to live in a place so rich in natural beauty. Bike trails, hiking, river rafting, and winter sports not only contribute to a higher quality of life for our residents, but are also a vital part of Ashland’s economy. Right now, with OSF’s future so uncertain, we have an opportunity to spotlight our outdoor recreation economy. Not only does Ashland offer a wealth of activities in one of the most beautiful regions in the country, we also have businesses such as outdoor-equipment retailers, bike stores, and running stores that can cater to people’s needs. I don’t just mean selling items, we can offer mountain bike tours, hiking tours, and snowshoe tours of our area.
As for the Ashland Watershed and trail network, I will support our Parks Department, the Ashland Woodlands and Trails Association, hikers, bikers, and all our citizens in regard to maintaining and expanding these spaces so that everyone can enjoy them. My platform always comes back to equity, and I will champion the same on our trails. With the right partnerships, we can balance the needs of hikers and bikers and develop new trails responsibly while ensuring that natural areas are protected.
RVMBA Questions & Responses
What is your position on planning and building infrastructure in Ashland, specifically related to outdoor recreation?
Our outdoor recreation areas, whether bike trails, hiking, river rafting, or winter sports not only contribute to a higher quality of life for our residents, but are also a vital part of Ashland’s economy. While I don’t have a specific plan at the moment in terms of building infrastructure, I am very much in support of protecting and expanding outdoor recreation spaces.
With OSF closed for all of 2020, and uncertainty around 2021, do you have any specific ideas related to maintaining and/or increasing tourism revenue in Ashland?
Yes! While OSF’s closure is certainly an economic hit to Ashland, we have an opportunity to spotlight our outdoor recreation economy. Not only do we have a rich variety of activities in one of the most beautiful regions in the country, we also have businesses such as outdoor-equipment retailers, bike stores, and running stores that can cater to people’s needs. I don’t just mean selling items, I’m thinking of things like offering mountain bike tours, hiking tours, and snowshoe tours of our area.
What is your overall impression of mountain biking and hiking in the Ashland Watershed, both in regards to tourism and local recreation?
My overall impression is that our biking and hiking trails are far more vast than most people realize. Our watershed is life-sustaining, and it’s also life-enriching. I don’t bike, but every time I hike in the watershed area, it hits me how dang lucky we are to live someplace so beautiful. I promise this, I don’t take it for granted.
What do you know about the Ashland Watershed Trail network, specifically city trails and alignments?
Not very much, but I know years ago the Ashland Woodlands and Trails Association received a grant and collaborated with the City of Ashland to create a trail system around Ashland that connected urban areas. I also know that trails are some of the most frequently requested public projects across the country because people want more ways to get around easily on foot or by bike. I support making that possible, so I’m eager to learn more.
What is your position on expanding the city trail network on the city of Ashland and/or Ashland Parks and Recreation lands?
I’d like to learn more about the opportunities. Generally, I’d like to see a few more trails created solely for mountain bikes, whether they’re built on City land or not. I always feel bad for the mountain bikers I see zooming down the trails, grinning from ear-to-ear, and suddenly they have to slow down to avoid walkers like me. Likewise, hikers should have a few trails dedicated to the slow stroll. Luckily, there is so much gorgeous land around Ashland, there is plenty of room for everyone. With the right partnerships, we can balance the needs of hikers and bikers and develop new trails responsibly while ensuring that natural areas are protected.