Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mountain biking at Eagle Creek? I'm on it for NUVO.

Tackled the particularly thorny issue of mountain bikes in Eagle Creek for my pals at NUVO this week.

As most readers are probably aware, I'm a cyclist myself so I'm sure there'll be plenty of accusations of bias on my part. But it's always been a point of pride for me to present both sides of the story equally, no matter my personal opinions. When I was working at the Star, I would constantly receive e- and voice-mails accusing me of either liberal and conservative bias. In the end, the reader's going to project his or her own viewpoint in whatever article they're reading.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rob,

    From past experiences with you, I know that you are a good reporter and demonstrate objectivity. So, I was disappointed to see your recent Nuvo article on the proposed trails at Eagle Creek Park. Amos Butler Audubon led the objection to several miles of trails at Fort Harrison State Park (but not all of the trails) and is also in the lead objecting to the proposed trails at Eagle Creek Park.

    In my opinion, Audubon is leading with facts based on observations, research, and science while Paul Arlinghaus and others at HMBA lead with emotion but few facts. The objectivity of the article would have been greatly improved if you had reached out to me at Amos Butler Audubon rather than relying on simplistic, and inaccurate, statements from people who object to the trails.

    There is no arguing that additional trails - for any purpose - have a disturbance affect on wildlife. Mountain bike trails just happen to have a larger impact because of their high usage. The science behind this is being led by Dr. Juricic and others at Purdue University.

    I have the Purdue study for Fort Harrison where the lead sentence under "Conclusions" states: All three scenarios of multi-use trail will result in significantly higher levels of disturbance on the studied [bird] species than the control scenario (i.e., without bikers)."

    The trails at Fort Harrison did not go around sensitive nesting areas. They went right through them because the DNR decided to give as much weight, if not more, to recreational use than wildlife. Some of the trails at Fort Harrison go through a state dedicated nature preserve which is not permitted by the Nature Preserves Act which was essentially ignored by the DNR.

    As far as the studies at Fort Harrison not yet indicating a negative impact on the birds, the reason is clear. Only one year of study was done (2011) which served as the baseline year. Future years will be compared to 2011. Information for 2012 is not complete because the breeding season is in process.

    My comments are merely meant to reveal my frustration that a knowledgeable person who objects to the trails was not interviewed for your article. Please keep me in mind for any future article you may write about mountain bike trails in the local area.

    Until then, happy trails....

    Don Gorney
    Amos Butler Audubon