Fact-based policy making
To the Editor:
In a letter entitled, “Keeping Our Water Supplies Safe” (Chelsea Record, 1/6/2017 Joseph Favaloro writes that mountain biking threatens the quality of the MWRA’s water, declared the best in the nation in 2014. Ironically, the MWRA received this honor before the DCR began enforcing the prohibition on mountain biking in the Ware River Watershed.
Mr. Favaloro’s claim that mountain biking endangers water protection, unlike “passive activities such as hiking, which do not jeopardize these protected waters,” is inaccurate. Scientific studies worldwide have repeatedly shown that hiking and mountain biking have similar impacts, as the DCR itself acknowledges.
Mr. Favaloro also uses the argument of “The Slippery Slope,” writing: “Once you say, “yes” to mountain biking in the watershed, what about snowmobiles? ATVs? Why aren’t horses allowed? How about swimming? If you can do it in the Ware watershed, why not at the Quabbin? Heck, what about the Wachusett?”
In fact, snowmobiles currently access many miles of trails in the WRW, and horses a limited number, although studies show equestrian impacts area greater than those of either hikers or mountain bikers. There are swimming beaches within the WRW at Whitehall Pond and Comet Pond, and the Wachusett Watershed has had bicycle trails since 2001. Furthermore, motorboats are allowed on Comet Pond, Long Pond and even the Quabbin Reservoir itself.
I look forward to the day when fact-based policy making will prevail in our state, and mountain bikers will be able to work with the DCR to reintroduce mountain biking on existing, sustainable trails in the WRW.
Leslie Choquette, PhD