COUNTY MANAGER STATEMENT ON SAN-LEE PARK BIKE TRAIL STATUS

LEE COUNTY, NC – April 15, 2021 – Today, County Manager John Crumpton announced in a statement that the section of San-Lee Park mountain bike trail, commonly referred to as Gravity Park, will remain closed for the foreseeable future as trail modifications are made to enhance and improve the safety of bike riders.  The section of bike trail was closed on Wednesday, April 7th by county Parks and Recreation to review safety standards and maintenance needs.

Read the full statement from County Manager John Crumpton:

“On Wednesday, April 7th, Lee County Parks and Recreation closed the section of mountain bike trail at San-Lee Park known as Gravity Park following a serious injury accident that occurred over the previous weekend.  This was the seventh serious injury reported on that section of trail over the past twelve months prompting the temporary closure to review trail safety measures and maintenance needs.

San-Lee Park is the largest of the county-owned park properties and was established to preserve and provide community access to nature and local wildlife.  The park offers the Nature Center, outdoor education programs and day camps, boating, fishing, tent camping, hiking trails and mountain bike trails.  The original bike trail was built over twenty years ago largely by volunteers who have continued to expand and maintain the trails.  I would like to thank the mountain bike community for their volunteer efforts and support of the bike trails at San-Lee Park; the trails are a popular feature utilized by county residents and visitors. 

We are appreciative of the many volunteer hours that have gone into building and maintaining the bike trails that are enjoyed by many, but the county also has a responsibility to the public to ensure the bike trails are accessible and safe for the average bike rider that is most likely to visit and utilize our trails.  Trail volunteers have been given much discretion in developing and expanding the bike trails over the years; however, in recent years, bike trails have been expanded and modified in ways that have significantly increased trail difficulty levels creating a section of trail that is not safe for use by the average mountain bike rider.  Trails were also intended to blend into the natural environment but some trail modifications and features do the opposite and disrupt the natural scenery and wildlife habitats of the park.  These are concerns that must be addressed.

The county is committed to maintaining a system of trails that meet reasonable expectations of the general public in terms of safety and difficulty levels, as well as, blends into the natural environment of the park.  To ensure this goal is met, the Parks and Recreation department will be responsible for all aspects of maintaining the San-Lee Park mountain bike trails including but not limited to review, approval, and supervision of all trail modification and expansion work; direct supervision of all on-site volunteers – individuals and groups; and periodic trail safety inspections in partnership with the newly formed bike trail safety committee.

To address concerns identified in a recent review of the existing trails, the county will create a bike trail safety committee that includes representatives of the local mountain biking community and county staff.  The committee will inspect bike trails on a monthly basis and review data on accidents and injuries reported; findings, concerns and/or subsequent recommendations will be reported to the County Manager’s Office for consideration.

The county is also halting any additional trail expansion work at this time.  A complete review of the existing bike trails is underway and changes will be made to remedy concerns related to safety hazards created by the high-level of difficulty of several trails and features, particularly those in the section known as Gravity Park.  Until trail modifications are complete, this section of the bike trails will remain closed to the public.  The county will also use this time to update trail signage, maps, and other information so that navigation of the trails is made easier for visitors to the park.  

We understand that there will be members of the mountain biking community that are disappointed by the planned trail modifications but the county priority is improving the safety of the bike trails for all riders and in creating an environment where riders of all ages and skill levels can safely enjoy biking in the natural environment and setting of San-Lee Park.

Thank you again to the volunteers who have dedicated their time and efforts in support of the San-Lee Park bike trails.  We look forward to continued partnership that enhances bike trail safety and enjoyment for county residents and visitors.  And thank you to the community for your patience and understanding as we make the necessary safety improvements to the bike trails at San-Lee Park.”

For more information about the mountain bike trails at San-Lee Park, please contact Lee County Government Parks and Recreation at (919) 775-2107.

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