Modifications to South Shore's Corral Trail could be completed by the fall, but first it needs your vote.
The Corral Trail, a multi-use track located southeast of Pioneer Trail, was selected as one of 12 finalists for the $100,000 Bell Built Grant. More than 100 groups from around the country applied for the money to fund three new mountain bike projects built by the International Mountain Biking Association's Trail Solutions - the same group that built the Truckee Pump Track.
A selection committee will tally up the votes from Facebook this spring and then decide which projects are the most viable and popular. Bell and IMBA will announce the winners at the Sea Otter Classic on April 19.
If the Corral project wins, the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association would get about $30,000 and in-kind labor to finish the route. That would mean 30 new features, better erosion control and a top-to-bottom trail that combines bike park qualities with a downhill route, according to a TAMBA Trails Director Ben Fish.
U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Assistant Forest Engineer and mountain bike trail expert Garrett Villanueva said the Bell Built Grant would finish what the LTBMU started almost three years ago. In October 2010, the agency partnered with the International Mountain Biking Association for a South Lake Tahoe mountain biking summit where representatives from around the world came to talk about the sport.
"Our mountain bike group had fallen silent and we saw a lot of unauthorized trails being constructed. But we wanted to manage the forest through education and collaboration, not enforcement," Villanueva said.
The Forest Service hired outside consultant Hilride to redesign a selection of Tahoe trails to be safe, sustainable and multi-use. No easy task, especially since some routes would also offer features like tabletop jumps and rock areas for riders of varying abilities.
The Corral Trail was one of the tracks chosen by the Forest Service, and almost three years later it has become a model of what collaboration between local mountain bikers and a public agency can achieve, Villanueva said. TAMBA, a group of volunteers who all share a love of mountain biking, stepped up to continue building the trail and applied for the Bell grant.
"We wanted to document when, where and how we were putting things on the trail. We had to quantify it and make a plan for volunteers who might not be professionals," Villanueva said.
It's a plan that can serve as a blueprint for other groups around the country who want to build safe, sustainable, and legal multi-use trails, Fish said.
"There hasn't been anything like this in the country built by the U.S. Forest Service," Fish said. "The Corral Trail seemed to be the best choice. It's shovel-ready and we've been working on it for several years."
Volunteers have only built five features on the Corral Trail so far and without the grant money, Fish said he doesn't know when the system will be completed.
"It will take us years with just volunteer labor. It's going to be really difficult," Fish said.