So my understanding (and I could be off here so please correct me if I am) is that Congress is amending the Wilderness Act to allow bicycles in wilderness areas. How could a bicycle advocacy group advocate against bicycling? To me that would be the equivalent to the American Lung Association promoting smoking. What exactly is the different approach that Jeff mentioned? It’s shocking that I pay $39 per year to an organization that supports legislation that prevents me from doing my hobby, you know the hobby that IMBA is built around. Again, I don’t know everything and perhaps there are factors I am not aware of, but from what I’ve read and heard, this is really bad. Crazy days.
Not sure I agree, but I think I understand their position. Historically when Republicans have been in control they open lands without really studying and making sure the impact will not cause reasonable and irrevocable damage. And when Democrats are in control they tend to close lands without really studying and making sure it really needs to be done.
It appears to me the IMBA is trying to live somewhere in the middle under the assumption that if lands are opened up and serious damage is done, the general public will see mountain bikes as an easy scapegoat, which could hurt future attempts at reasonable access.
IMBA’s approach to bikes in Wilderness is multi-pronged, while the STC is simply focused on removing the blanket ban on bikes in Wilderness. (Note: the proposed bill is not asking for a blanket allowance for bikes in Wilderness; regional land managers will be able to decide which Wilderness trails will allow bikes, and which will not.)
This is the more nuanced IMBA approach I alluded to earlier:
– Oppose bike bans in Wilderness study areas. These are areas that are not yet officially designated as Wilderness, but have been recommended for the designation. One USFS region in particular, Region 1, has chosen to close these areas to bikes in the interim while the Wilderness study is ongoing, in the event that the area eventually becomes Wilderness. Pretty much everyone (IMBA, the STC) agrees this is bogus and shouldn’t be happening.
– Work to get some Wilderness lines redrawn. IMBA doesn’t want to fundamentally change the rules regarding what is and isn’t allowed in Wilderness areas. Instead, they plan to continue working to get Wilderness boundaries redrawn where it is advantageous to bikers. They’ve had a couple of successes here, re-connecting some popular MTB trails that used to dead-end at Wilderness lines. As you can imagine, this is a slow, tedious process and each negotiation generally results in nominal mileage increases.
– Collaborate with other conservation groups. IMBA argues that rocking the boat on the Wilderness issue is just going to upset larger, better funded groups in the conservation community. In turn, these groups may oppose ongoing and future efforts to get bike trails built/designated in non-Wilderness areas. This is a risk that IMBA is unwilling to take.
It’s ridiculous. All STC is trying to accomplish is to have the original bill interpreted and enacted as written. No allowing bikes everywhere or anything crazy like that. I am 100% certain IMBA exists only to fund itself and is not doing the mtb community any real service.