Green Valley Gap biking, OHV area slated for development; bike races need new home

Utah High School Mountain Bike Championship held in the Green Valley Gap area, St. George, Utah, Oct. 24, 2015 | Photo by Diane Shanklin, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Construction is expected to begin next spring on the first phase of a 730-acre development in the Green Valley Gap, a popular mountain biking, rock climbing and off-highway vehicle area west of the Green Valley area in St. George.

In the past, the location has hosted numerous mountain bike races, the largest of which is the Utah High School Cycling League state championship which drew several hundred riders to the event in October.

Other races held in the area include True Grit, Fall Fury, Cactus Hugger and the Huntsman World Senior Games downhill and cross-country biking events. The races had a significant economic impact, up to $15 million when combined, Bureau of Land Management recreation planner Dave Kiel said

A Google Earth aerial photo shows trails used by mountain biking events, with development plan marked in blue | Image courtesy Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance
A Google Earth aerial photo shows trails used by mountain biking events, with development plan marked in blue | Image courtesy Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance | Click on photo to enlarge

Although the land is privately owned, the area has been used for years by mountain bikers, OHVs and all-terrain vehicles, dirt bike riders and four-wheel drive vehicles.

The private land extends from the top of the hill at the end of Canyon View Drive west through the valley and halfway up the hill, Kiel said.

“The other half is public land up top, that we manage,” he said.

The mountain bike trails used by events go up and down the hill, with the staging area at the bottom in the valley.

“So there’s no way to eliminate the lower half and still have viable events in there,” Kiel said.


Read more: Flying Monkeys seek top spot in mountain bike championships; updated with photos


After the land is developed, access to many of the mountain bike trails will be maintained for individual riders. However the races will likely have to find a new home, Kiel said. That may not be easy because of the parking space needed to stage the big races. Kiel estimates 700-800 vehicles were parked at the Green Valley site for the high school championship race.

The popular Green Valley Gap area is slated for development, St. George, Utah, Nov. 27, 2015 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News
The popular Green Valley Gap area is slated for development, St. George, Utah, Nov. 27, 2015 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

The Green Valley location is ideal for big races because it is close to town, Kiel said, has lots of parking and has challenging courses and trails. And, because of the soil composition, the area can be raced when it is fairly wet.

“It’s hard to find something to replace that,” Kiel said. “Doesn’t mean we can’t, but it’s certainly not going to be easy.”

While lots of new trails have been built in the Hurricane Cliffs area, there isn’t enough parking there to accommodate big races, Kiel said. The final answer may be some combination of state, private and BLM-managed land.

The land owner has allowed the races to go on, but that is coming to an end with the development planned to start soon.

“It’s an unfortunate thing, but it wasn’t unexpected,” Kiel said.

Craig Shanklin, president of the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance, said the timing of construction was a surprise.

“The developer should be praised for allowing so many people to use this property without restriction for so many years,” Shanklin said. “They are not the bad guy. It’s just unfortunate that information about this impending development was not shared with users at an earlier stage.”

There are some benefits to the transition, Mark Mortensen, assistant to the city manager, said, as the area is somewhat of a free-for-all. Mountain bikers mix with dirt bikes and ATVs, and target shooting happens in some areas.

The development is aiming to appeal to people who enjoy natural trails and access to open space and is open to preserving trails, Mortensen said.

“The only thing that is apparent is that it may not be suitable for large-scale events,” he said about the development.

“The developer is very interested in preserving trails, as is the BLM, SITLA (School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration) and others,” Mortensen said.

The Lakes at St. George

Master plan for The Lakes, a new development in the Green Valley Gap area | Image courtesy Mark Tupeen, St. George News
Master plan for The Lakes, a new development in the Green Valley Gap area | Image courtesy Mark Teepen, St. George News | Click on image to enlarge

The new development is owned by St. George 730 LLC, a Nevada company, and is being managed by Mark Teepen of Land Development Consultants Inc.

Construction will begin with large-scale grading in the first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter 2016, Teepen said. The initial grading will not interfere with two races scheduled for the area in March.

“But the ones in the future, after March, are going to have to be located elsewhere, or we have to coordinate a different staging area,” Teepen said.

The land use plan for The Lakes was developed in close coordination with city planners, Teepen said, in an effort to maintain access for hikers, mountain bikers and rock climbers.

“This plan was really developed on that basis, to create and maintain trail access in pristine areas like the Gap wash people like to go climbing on,” Teepen said, “for all the residents of St. George.”

Grading will begin in spring 2016 for parcels 14-18, although only parcels 14 and 15 directly west of the Sunbrook Golf Club are scheduled for home construction in 2016. More parcels will be developed to the south along Plantations Drive, which will eventually connect into Dixie Drive. The entire project could take 10-15 years to finish, Teepen said.

Thirty percent of the development will be maintained as open space, Teepen said, in parks, green spaces and trails.

In the current master plan, all the canyons will remain open, project engineer Ray Allton, of Rosenberg Associates, said, along with all of the access points to get to BLM land and trails in the washes that run east-west. Access to the Bear Claw Poppy Trail and St. George city water tanks will be maintained, Allton said.

The development will be done in three main phases, with a total of 18 areas, Allton said. Each area will be a small standalone neighborhood with a few streets.

“Usually it’s the washes that break up these neighborhoods because they’re keeping the washes and all that open,” Allton said, “so the neighborhoods are kind of in between the washes, in between the canyons.”

The Lakes project will include a variety of products and densities, Allton said, from townhomes to single-family homes, Allton said. One area is designated as community commercial for smaller local businesses, he said.

Ed. note: Corrected spelling of Mark Teepen’s name.

Email: japplegate@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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6 Comments

  • mjvande November 28, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Introducing children to mountain biking is CRIMINAL. Mountain biking, besides being expensive and very environmentally destructive, is extremely dangerous. Recently a 12-year-old girl DIED during her very first mountain biking lesson! Another became quadriplegic at 13! Serious accidents and even deaths are commonplace. Truth be told, mountain bikers want to introduce kids to mountain biking because (1) they want more people to help them lobby to open our precious natural areas to mountain biking and (2) children are too naive to understand and object to this activity. For 500+ examples of serious accidents and deaths caused by mountain biking, see http://mjvande.nfshost.com/mtb_dangerous.htm.

    Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1996: http://mjvande.nfshost.com/mtb10.htm . It’s dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don’t have access to trails closed to bikes. They have EXACTLY the same access as everyone else — ON FOOT! Why isn’t that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking….

    A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it’s not true. To settle the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited, and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see http://mjvande.nfshost.com/scb7.htm ). I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

    Those were all experimental studies. Two other studies (by White et al and by Jeff Marion) used a survey design, which is inherently incapable of answering that question (comparing hiking with mountain biking). I only mention them because mountain bikers often cite them, but scientifically, they are worthless.

    Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife and other trail users out of the area, and, worst of all, teaches kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it’s NOT!). What’s good about THAT?

    For more information: http://mjvande.nfshost.com/mtbfaq.htm .

    • Lastdays November 29, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      I believe Dr. Vandeman has finally lost it and has lost all credibility with this comment. After reading through his post and doing a little research I found this article in Outside Magazine:

      “Guest blogger Peter Frick Wright is a writer and mountain biker who has been blogging about a unique case involving Mike Vandeman, a man accused of attacking mountain bikers with a saw on trails near the UC Berkeley campus
      There’s always been a subtle tension between hikers and bikers when passing each other on forest trails, but this week, in Oakland, that tension gets a whole lot less subtle.
      Anti mountain bike advocate Mike Vandeman is on trial for assault, battery and vandalism. There are six counts stemming from altercations with four victims over nearly a year. In the most recent incident, which lead to his arrest, he’s accused of hitting a rider in the chest with a pruning saw as the biker went by.
      Vandeman has long been a scourge on mountain biking forums—he has a Ph.D. in psychology and is particularly good at eliciting responses—but in the past he engaged only through comments and academic papers that he posted on his website.
      Now it seems, his crusade is no longer strictly virtual.”

      So lets say they close this 740 acres to mountain biking only and “not” build this development. What did that accomplish ? Did that solve the world from biking injuries in this little part of the planet? I don’t think so.

      What about the injuries that come from people living in a fully developed 740 acre subdivision? Well, let’s list a few. Slipping on floors, bathtubs, stairs driveways, etc… We’ve got trampolines, falling out of trees, off roofs, off the bed, etc.. I could go on and on but I won’t. there are way more injuries in a subdivision than outdoor biking could ever muster up.
      I don’t have a Ph.D. in Physcology but I know enough to stop before sounding like a complete buffoon who has completely lost it on such a trivial topic and issue. Happy trails to all you mountain bikers !!

    • SteepPowder December 3, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      Nice. Did you know that in 2012 (the last year in which I could find data), ~700 people died in bike accidents, from all causes combined? Did you know that in 2012, ~14,000 pedestrians died solely from being hit by cars? If you shouldn’t teach kids to mountain bike, you shouldn’t teach them to walk on sidewalks either.

      Shouldn’t be allowed in natural areas? Inanimate objects without rights? What about your hiking shoes/boots? Are they animate objects with rights?

      I was a hiker before I was a cyclist, and I still do both. I’m on the trails, in one form or another, almost every day. When I’m cycling, I don’t mind hikers. When I’m hiking, I don’t mind cyclists. And mountain biking has most certainly not taught them “that the rough treatment of nature is okay.” I’d love to compare our conservation credentials someday.

      Sounds like you live a very sheltered and scared life. In your own words, “scientifically, [you] are worthless.”

    • SteepPowder December 3, 2015 at 1:11 pm

      Finally, are you this guy? http://www.outsideonline.com/1808171/trial-mike-vandeman

      Sounds like you’re more harmful to people than mountain biking is to people.

      Nice mugshot though. http://www.netpositive.co.uk/images/vandeman.gif

  • .... November 29, 2015 at 3:05 am

    LOL your the same idiot from the other article. Whaaaaaa whaaaaaaa LOL and all you did was post the same stupid B.S as you did on the other story….LOL ! step outside and exercise that fat disgusting overweight body you have and get some exercise.

  • .... November 29, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    WE WILL BE OUT THERE RACING ! AND SO WILL CHILDREN AND THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN,DO ABOUT IT ! Muahahahahaha

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