HeartLake3.jpg

A June 23 view of Heart Lake in the Anacortes Community Forest Lands.

ANACORTES — A discussion will start Thursday on whether e-bike users should be given more access to the Anacortes Community Forest Lands.

The city’s Forest Advisory Board will lead the discussion when it meets via Zoom at 6 p.m.

“The focus Thursday will be to talk about existing (e-bike) policy,” said Bob Vaux, assistant director of Anacortes Parks and Recreation. “There are some folks who are happy with the policy and some who aren’t.”

The current forest lands policy classifies e-bikes, which are bicycles with electric motors that can assist with pedaling, as motorcycles when it comes to which of the 50 miles of trails in the forest lands on which they are allowed and at what time of the year.

But Vaux said there has been some interest to have e-bikes classified as mountain bikes, which allow them on more trails — and to use those trails year-round.

Current forest lands policy allows mountain bikes on about 43 miles of the 50 miles of trails year-round. Motorcycles and e-bikes are allowed on 15 miles of trails April 1 through Oct. 31.

Vaux said there was a movement two years ago to hold discussions on e-bikes in the forest lands, but that the COVID-19 pandemic put them on hold.

“Now we are picking the discussion back up,” he said.

Vaux said in the past several weeks he has received about 12 emails regarding e-bike use in the forest lands. About nine have been in favor of expanding access and about three against doing so.

The five-member Forest Advisory Board now takes up the issue.

The board will eventually forward a recommendation to the Anacortes City Council on whether it should change policy regarding e-bikes in the forest lands.

Though there is no timeline for reaching a recommendation to give to the City Council, the process is likely to take at least six months, said Vaux.

The board meets the first Thursday of each month.

At its December meeting, the board said it would like to hear from the local trails community at its January meeting, from regional trail managers in February and to focus on additional public comments in March.

Written and verbal comments will be accepted at the meetings.

Comments may also be submitted to Parks and Recreation staff at Anacortes Parks and Recreation, Attn: Bob Vaux, P.O. Box 547, Anacortes, 98221, or by email at bobv@cityofanacortes.org.

— Assignment Editor Dan Ruthemeyer: 360-416-2143, druthemeyer@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @goskagit

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