Sunday before last, I wrote about the discussion in Spearfish over the proper use and care of Lookout Mountain. Among the points that came out in the discussion before the Spearfish City Council between advocates and opponents of a plan to develop Lookout's trail system was the fact that use of Lookout Mountain is governed by two land easements.
I've had a chance to read those two easements. On the Lookout Mountain land that Harlan and Barbara Schmidt gave to the city, the conservation easement allows bicycle travel. On the Lookout land donated by Clare Meier (of the Passion Play family), the conservation easement forbids bicycle travel. Fortunately for cyclists, the Schmidt easement covers 98% of Lookout's existing trails.
But hold your hydration packs! Let's look at Section 3A of the Schmidt easement, which outlines some of the city's rights:
To use, maintain, repair and improve the Grantor's Land, and to use, locate construct, maintain, repair and improve facilities on Grantor's Land in conformance with Exhibit "B" for public access non-motorized non-wheeled recreational uses such as hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, or other traditional non-motorized non-wheeled recreational activities on areas other than those designated as "Bike Path," and for public access non-motorized wheeled and non-wheeled recreational uses on areas designated as "Bike Path," and for historical, environmental, educational, cultural and other interpretive displays, exhibits and programs, and to post informational, directional and other signs and directives relative to the uses of the property, as from time to time are deemed necessary or desirable (these uses are referred to in this Conservation Easement as "Recreation") [emphasis mine; Deed of Conservation Easement between City of Spearfish and South Dakota Parks & Wildlife Foundation, signed 2000.05.08].
Section 3A says we can hike and run and gallop and ski anywhere our legs can take us on Lookout Mountain. The part I bolded says we can take our mountain bikes only on trails designated as "Bike Path."
According to Cheryl Johnson, Spearfish public works chief, the city has never designated any official "Bike Path" on Lookout Mountain.
Uh oh. That means those hardy souls taking their two wheels around Lookout are violating the conservation easement. Book 'em, Dana!... or maybe just get out the map, talk to Jim Meyer, and officially designate some bike paths on Lookout Mountain.
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By the way, if U.S. Senate candidate Larry Rhoden had his way, neither the Schmidt or Meier easements on Lookout Mountain would exist. Recall that he has supported legislation that would do away with the permanent conservation easements that make Spearfish's investment in trails on Lookout Mountain possible.