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Keeping tabs on the City Council's activities so you don't have to

By Edward Ericson Jr. | Posted 12/2/2009

On the agenda for Nov. 24

Resolution 09-0173R Informational Hearing--Mountain Biking on City Reservoir Watershed Property.

Calls for a meeting to update an 11-year-old agreement between mountain bikers and the city government.

The Read: After decades without any enforcement of land-use rules around the city's watershed, the Department of Public Works now has a seven-member ranger squad, which has been reminding people of the old agreements and ancient rules about where you can go and what you can do on the lands surrounding the city's reservoirs. In recent weeks, several people have been issued $100 fines for being on the land after dark, and the time of strict enforcement is drawing near. "In an attempt to prevent the shouting match that is certain to occur when that enforcement begins, we hope to preempt it," says Eric Crawford, a trail liaison for the 600-member Mid Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE), a nonprofit mountain-biking organization that made the deal with the city back in 1998. Crawford says his group spends "hundreds of hours a year" on trail maintenance around the reservoirs. But most of that work is on the fire roads--which are the only places the bikers are officially allowed to ride. Public Works spokesman Kurt Kocher says the mountain bikers (and everyone else) have had the run of the place, and it's causing problems. The so-called "single tracks" (narrow paths on which mountain bikers like to challenge themselves) have been illegally blazed "throughout the land" around the reservoirs, he says, eroding the soil. During a recent rain storm, Kocher says, "I was astounded by the amount of water pouring off this single track." He says ramps and even a makeshift boardwalk have been built by mountain bikers for their own amusement, all unauthorized. The two sides will begin meeting on Dec. 14, Kocher says, adding that everyone involved seems cordial and willing to compromise. "They're reasonable people," he says of the bike enthusiasts. "The rules aren't that strict, it's just, don't destroy the woods, and don't go swimming."

Bill 09-0406 Limited Service Pregnancy Centers--Disclaimers.

Requires some crisis-pregnancy centers to post a sign saying they don't offer abortion or birth control-related services.

The Read: First-in-the-nation ordinance strongly opposed by abortion opponents passed on a 12-3 vote, same as the week previous. Now, the bill goes to Mayor Sheila Dixon for signing.

The next Council Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 3, at 5 p.m.

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