Please Don't Close The Historic Lights Mill Trail On The Side Of Lookout Mountain

Tuesday, September 29, 2020
To the National Park Service:
 
I am writing to give some context on what I believe is an ill-informed decision to close the "Jura" trail on the north end of Lookout Mountain.  In the early 1990s I spent a year of my life walking and researching every nook and cranny of the mountain and I can tell you that the trail existed then and had existed, in some form, prior to the Civil War. Why? Because it is a natural route for people and wildlife. 

  What is now commonly called the "Jura" trail is basically the route of the Lights Mill Trail which crossed over the north end of the mountain.  Along with the Old Federal Road, Lights Mill Trail was one of the only ways for travelers to get past the imposing river and bluffs of Lookout.  It's probable that Lights Mill Trail was built along the route of an ancient trail once used by the land's original inhabitants.
When I hear of plans to "restore" the area of the trail, I wonder if in fact your crew will in fact be burying history. 

  I walked the 30 years ago looking for traces of wagon wheels worn into the rock which I had read about. Although it was not maintained at that time, the path was viable enough that I included it in my guidebook to the trails of Lookout Mountain, using its proper name of Lights Mill Trail.

  There is a very real cost to the park in terms of public relations when a trail which hundreds or thousands of people enjoy each year is suddenly closed. As you know, Chattanooga is blessed with an incredible network of people trained and skilled in trail construction and maintenance. What a resource for the park!  Rather than making those people disappointed and bitter, literally erecting fences, why not seek their help and assistance?  

  In the past I have worked with many staff in the park and understand the park's historic mission, and appreciate how recreation fits into that context.  I honestly don't think closing this particular trail will serve the mission of the park in any way.

Rodger Ling

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