Still No Permit for the Laramie Enduro

Found this article this morning in the Laramie Boomerang.

Less than two months out from the Laramie Enduro’s race day, organizers are still waiting to receive an official permit from the U.S. Forest Service.

Laramie District Ranger Larry Sandoval said he didn’t foresee anything preventing the permitting of the Enduro, citing staffing issues and an unusually busy winter as reasons the office got behind.

Enduro race director Rich Vincent said his planning efforts are on hold until he has the permit in hand, though.

“I’m sitting here on $34,000 worth of checks I can’t cash. I can’t buy supplies. I can’t order food. I can’t talk to sponsors and say ‘Yeah we’re going to have a race,’” he said.

Vincent submitted the permit application in November after meeting with forest service officials about their initial impact concerns, including a potential water crossing and a wildlife nesting area. The race is scheduled for July 31.

The previous permit had been issued for five years. Instead of issuing another five-year permit, the new permit will be for one year, which Sandoval said was related to a directive from the regional office.

“That one-year permit, we’ve learned from our regional office in Denver, is what we should have been doing all along,” he said.

Sandoval said the Enduro permitting process slowed down through the winter because the Laramie Ranger District was dealing with issues surrounding the mountain pine beetle epidemic.

“That’s everybody’s top priority,” he said, adding that staff turnover and retirements in the special uses program also hampered the permitting.

Vincent expressed frustration at what from the outside appeared to be an opaque process.

“If you’re not doing stuff, and you’re not telling people stuff, we’re not going to read your mind. Your actions are what really speak,” he said.

The next step in the process is for forest service resource specialists to examine specific portions of the course they have concerns about, which will happen on June 21. Short portions of the course might be rerouted, and changes would be included in the operating plan.

“Our anticipation is that we’ll finish up the steps that we need to do to get his permit issued in time for the race this year,” Sandoval said. “We understand the importance of having the Enduro and what that does for the city of Laramie and Albany County.”

Close to 500 riders will be participating in this year’s race, Vincent said. He’s been running the race for the last seven years, and the course has been unchanged for the last five years. The 70-mile race covers dirt roads and established trails across the Pole Mountain Unit of the Medicine Bow National Forest.

The first 300 entry slots filled up in about four and a half minutes when online registration opened in March. The remaining slots were filled through a lottery.

Most riders are coming from Colorado, but 23 different states will be represented in addition to Alberta, Canada.

Vincent said the race is in the enviable position where he has sponsors contacting him with merchandise to donate, such as bike frames, in addition to several thousands of dollars in prize money the race awards.

The race also generates thousands of dollars in proceeds, which the Enduro has used to support a number of smaller events in Laramie as well as nonprofit organizations, including the Laramie Duathlon, Laramie Mountain Bike Series, Laramie BikeNet, Medicine Bow Mountain Bike Patrol, Curt Gowdy Trail Fund, Interfaith Good Samaritan, Laramie Red Cross and local volunteer fire departments, among others.

This year, Vincent said he’s hoping to use proceeds to help jump-start local participation in a fledgling high school mountain bike league that’s starting in Colorado, with Wyoming riders eligible to participate.

“I’d like to get more kids out on bikes,” he said.

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