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When the news broke that IMBA had testified against a proposed bill, HR 1349, that would remove the blanket ban on mountain bikes in Wilderness areas, the vocal reaction of mountain bikers on social media was swift and fierce. While IMBA didn’t immediately share that testimony on their own Facebook page, many riders heard about it via other sources, including Singletracks. The comments section on a simultaneously-timed announcement of the recent IMBA Epic trail designations turned into a train wreck of negativity.

“Not going to be very many, or any, ‘Epic’ rides left if IMBA continues to support the blocking of human powered bicycling on public lands,” said Aaron Edwards in the #1 upvoted comment, with 76 reactions.

“Imagine how hikers would feel if you supported blocking their access to the mountains? That’s what you are doing in our eyes IMBA. Either have a major change of heart, or simply cease to exist. We are not asking to ride bikes on all of the trails in the wilderness. Just some, maybe just a few. How is ‘none of them’ the stance you support?

“Wilderness mountain biking is wildly compatible with other user groups and accepted throughout much of Europe, Central America, New Zealand, and our cousins to the North, Canada. Time to not fear standing up for something that matters IMBA!”

In response to the outcry, Dave Wiens, the Executive Director of IMBA, released a lengthy statement detailing IMBA’s approach to Wilderness. While some riders appreciated the response and the approach, again, all of the top-rated comments on IMBA’s Facebook page in response to Wiens’s statement took a negative turn.

“‘IMBA’s mission is to create, enhance and protect great places to ride mountain bikes. The word ‘protect’ guided and motivated us and made it imperative that IMBA not be silent on this bill,'” Brad Shelton quoted from Wiens’s statement.

“See how it says ‘protect great places to ride’? You didn’t vote to protect great places to ride, because you can’t ride there.

“Between this and the eMTBs you have completely lost your way,” Shelton concluded, in a comment that received 84 upvotes.

But as I’ve attempted to digest IMBA’s initial testimony and their subsequent statements, some issues still weren’t clear to me. Why did they testify at all? What does IMBA have to gain from this testimony? So, I reached out to IMBA in an attempt to clear up the confusion.

Did IMBA need to testify?

First, IMBA was quick to claim that they don’t actually oppose HR 1349. Instead, they “don’t support it,” as they said in their testimony. “The bill is being actively opposed by dozens of national and regional organizations,” said IMBA. IMBA is dedicating no resources to opposing the bill.

But if they don’t oppose the bill, why did they submit a “testimony” in the first place? Was IMBA subpoenaed or otherwise ordered to submit testimony? In short, the answer is “no.”

“We concluded that as the leading mountain bike advocacy organization at the federal level it is essential for our voice to be present in this discussion and on this bill, and for IMBA to stand independently with its testimony,” said IMBA. “Our most cherished partners are the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service because they own the lands on which many of us ride and where we hope to ride in the future. A discussion about riding on this federal land would be incomplete without IMBA.”

Despite claiming that they submitted “testimony” on this matter, the STC has noted in an email that a written statement submitted prior to the congressional hearing, without a request from the committee, doesn’t technically qualify as “testimony.” It is possible IMBA will re-submit its statement now that the hearing has been completed.

Did IMBA violate their agreement with the STC?

To many mountain bikers, IMBA’s written statement appears to conflict with a 2016 joint statement in which the STC and IMBA each agreed not to undermine the work of the other. “IMBA, great job back-stabbing the people who are actually advocating for mountain bikers,” said Jordan Scheremeta on IMBA’s Facebook page (41 upvotes). But how does IMBA see it?

“Our statement is well within the spirit of our joint agreement with the STC,” said IMBA. “From the joint statement: ‘IMBA reciprocally respects STC’s approach and does not oppose it, but chooses not to support STC’s legislative reform efforts, partially in order to safeguard and strengthen positive working relationships with other stakeholders.’

“IMBA is not supporting H.R. 1349. IMBA is not opposing H.R. 1349.”

Very few riders or commenters are buying what appears to be political maneuvering on IMBA’s part. For their part, the Sustainable Trails Coalition sees IMBA’s written statement to the congressional committee as opposition to the bill, and a violation of their 2016 agreement with IMBA. “IMBA’s current opposition to HR 1349, which departs from the STC-IMBA agreement of 2016, is giving ammunition to anti-STC members of Congress like Jared Huffman (D-Calif),” said Ted Stroll, President of the STC. Stroll went on to characterize IMBA’s testimony as “[reneging] on [a] solemn commitment to the STC.”

What does IMBA have to gain from this testimony?

Based on IMBA’s statement emphasizing a “collaborative approach to Wilderness,” many commenters are claiming that IMBA has been bought out or coerced by the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, and others–speculation has run wild. So I asked IMBA point-blank: “What did you have to gain by submitting this letter?” And, “What would IMBA lose if HR 1349 passes?”

“By submitting testimony IMBA was able to educate the committee on its long-time relationships with federal land agencies and its collaborative strategy for protecting mountain bike access from being lost to new Wilderness,” said IMBA. “It also allowed IMBA to bring attention to the issues it feels present the most opportunity for mountain biking: supporting bicycle-friendly legislation like the Recreation-Not-Red-Tape Act and opposing the inconsistent management of recommended wilderness, which has led to unnecessary trail loss for mountain bikers.

“The problem HR 1349 presents is opportunity cost and diminished return on investment,” IMBA continued. “Land managers with Wilderness in their purview could potentially be bogged down in implementing the necessary lengthy analysis of bicycles on Wilderness trails, which will prevent other mountain bike projects from getting attention and moving forward. That’s why IMBA focuses on opportunities outside of Wilderness: because there’s more opportunity for more trail using fewer resources. It’s a better ROI.”

In short, IMBA is unclear on how HR 1349 would be implemented, and they claim that it will cause a large amount of work for land managers and, by extension, local mountain bike advocates and IMBA itself. What they fail to note is that this large amount of work could result in a large increase in mountain bike access: hundreds or thousands of miles of singletrack could be opened to mountain bikes. While nobody is claiming that the work will be easy, is it not worth the effort? IMBA is clear that they think the “ROI” isn’t worth it.

A statement from publicland.org attempts to explain what the implementation of HR 1349 would look like, although at times they too fall victim to common logical fallacies in this ongoing debate. Regardless, here’s one crux statement from the post:

“The real point here is this would create a very difficult management situation for the BLM and the USFS and demand a considerable amount of time working with the variety of mountain bike advocates, hiking and horseback riding groups, planning for trails, development of trails, responding to visitor conflicts, and responding to resource impacts that, with limited staff and time, would be quickly sucked up into protracted and controversial planning that would inevitably end up in court.”

One could argue that it’s the job of the BLM and the USFS to do exactly this, and that’s what we’re paying them to do with our tax dollars. Mountain bikers are tax-paying citizens and equal owners of the public land, along with hikers and equestrians, and require equal, science-based consideration for access to singletrack trails. Also, note that the USFS, BLM, and NPS do not actually own the land as Wiens stated above–they manage the land for all tax-paying US citizens.

What does the opposition say about HR 1349?

Will this happen in Wilderness? No. Photo: BLM

While IMBA declined to comment on the record about any potential detrimental effects that HR 1349 could have to the Wilderness act, the organizations that are actively fighting the bill have said plenty. In their response, IMBA appears to be giving credence to many of these claims, but is attempting to stay neutral. As we’ve already noted above and will discuss in more detail below, that neutral position doesn’t appear to be an actual option. So in this analysis, I’ve been forced to turn to the anti-bike forces to see what they have to say.

Here’s a recent article posted on Wilderness.org that includes some arguments against mountain bikes in Wilderness. Such responses continue to be poorly-reasoned, as we’ve outlined here.

One common complaint in light of the drastic reduction in the Bear Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments is that HR 1349 will open Wilderness up to mining and resource extraction. “Do any of you people that are upset about IMBA not supporting HR 1349 know why?” said Kirk Luedtke on our Facebook page (24 reactions). “It not only opened the door to bikes but also motor vehicles which would have eventually lead to things like mining, fracking and even possible development.

“If this bill goes through, it will be very bad for not only the wilderness areas as a whole but also for mountain biking.”

We have yet to see any evidence to substantiate this claim, and IMBA declined to provide any. Ted Stroll and the STC, of course, deny that this will happen in any way. Stroll characterizes the bill as a “modest, cautious reform,” and in response to worries about degradation of the Wilderness Act and opening Wilderness up to resource extraction, attempted to address this in his testimony.

Refinement of HR 1349

Ted Stroll testifies before the House Natural Resources Committee. Photo: Natural Resources on Flickr.

Some pro-Wilderness mountain bikers have argued that the wording of HR 1349 was too vague to accomplish the ends that the STC hopes to achieve, and that it could be radically altered by congress before it is passed, thus opening up Wilderness areas in an unintended way. While this argument is based on fear, due to the legislative process it is a distinct possibility.

However, during markup by the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee, bill HR 1349 has subsequently been “improved” from it’s original language, according to the STC. “People who want reasonable biking access to Wilderness but have been concerned about the old bill’s language should be reassured by the amended version,” they continued.

This is the new HR 1349, as amended December 13, 2017:

« Section 4 of the Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1133(c)) is amended by adding at the end of subsection (d) the following: “(8) Allowable uses. Each agency administering any area designated as wilderness may allow the use of motorized wheelchairs, non-motorized wheelchairs, non-motorized adaptive cycles, non-motorized bicycles, non-motorized strollers, non-motorized wheelbarrows, non-motorized survey wheels, non-motorized measuring wheels, or non-motorized game carts within any wilderness area. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term ‘wheelchair’ means a device designed solely for use by a mobility-impaired person for locomotion, that is suitable for use in an indoor pedestrian area.”. »

The new clarifications introduced into HR 1349 during markup are consistent with the STC’s goals from the start, and should help clarify the intent of the bill. While HR 1349 has made it through one round of modifications without being changed for the worse, the legislative process is lengthy and involved, and the bill could indeed be changed again.

What is the future of HR 1349?

“The next step is to get the bill to the House floor,” said Stroll. “Ordinarily this would go smoothly, but IMBA’s current opposition to HR 1349, which departs from the STC-IMBA agreement of 2016, is giving ammunition to anti-STC members of Congress like Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) who want to keep mountain bikes out of federal lands if the Sierra Club doesn’t approve of it. Huffman referred to IMBA’s opposition at the committee hearing, and mountain biking opponents are invoking it all over the Internet.”

Stroll mentioned that the STC is “[trying] to accommodate IMBA in a way that will benefit both organizations.” If they cannot successfully accommodate IMBA, the bill should still be able to make it to the floor of the House of Representatives, but it may be delayed.

For their part, IMBA says that they “won’t be working on this bill going forward; the testimony IMBA provided was its only action on the bill.” They will continue to monitor the bill’s progress, but “IMBA will remain focused on its priorities. These include supporting the Recreation-Not-Red-Tape Act and opposing the inconsistent management of recommended wilderness, along with ongoing work on many current Forest Service plans to ensure these plans are favorable for mountain biking.”

What will happen to IMBA?

Can IMBA survive the negative response to their position on the Wilderness issue? That remains to be seen.

IMBA Canada, a separate organization, felt they had to release their own statement, saying “The science shows that mountain bikes do not inherently cause greater environmental impact than other forms of non-motorized trail use, and blanket restrictions similar to the ones set out in the Wilderness Act are ignorant of that fact.” (Emphasis added.) It appears IMBA Canada is distancing themselves from the position taken by IMBA US.

The San Diego Mountain Bike Association (SDMBA) has called for the resignation of IMBA’s board of directors. NEMBA and SDMBA have also released a petition on Change.org, “[demanding] that the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) cease its opposition to HR 1349.” As we discussed back in May, many chapters are leaving IMBA. SDMBA, one of the largest IMBA chapters in the nation, was on the fence six months ago, but chose to renew at that time. Some individuals members are leaving IMBA as well, as highlighted by the thread started on our own forums, “Cancel Your IMBA Membership — Send a Clear Message.”

Finally, Stroll is concerned about what IMBA’s opposition to this bill means for the future of mountain bike advocacy in the United States. “If STC and IMBA don’t resolve IMBA’s reneging on its solemn commitment to STC, I foresee a permanent (or at least long-term) split in the mountain biking community, with most grass-roots mountain bikers, particularly in the West and New England, on the STC side,” said Stroll. “On the other side will be those, probably mostly in non-Wilderness states, who don’t care about the issue but want IMBA’s help with chapter membership management. Those who like IMBA’s generous approach toward e-bikes and think STC is too audacious will also likely stick with IMBA. It will be a terrible loss for both sides.”

A terrible loss for both sides, indeed. What could have been a rallying cry for mountain bikers nationwide may only create a greater divide in our sport.

Stay tuned, as we continue to cover this issue here on Singletracks.com.

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# Comments

  • Zoso

    Very much appreciate the update on this issue. Thank you for doing this.

    Interestingly, in doing internet searches for those who oppose the bill, most sites do not have comment sections. And the ones that do, have comments that are overwhelmingly in support of the change to Wilderness.

    Thus it appears that those who oppose the bill simply want to project their lies and emotionally charged rhetoric instead of actually having a discussion on the issue.

    This gives me a fair amount of hope. It appears the more education for both bikers and non-bikers, the more potential for this bill to pass.

  • Jeff Barber

    “It also allowed IMBA to bring attention to the issues it feels present the most opportunity for mountain biking”

    That’s sorta like crashing someone’s birthday party and making it your own since your birthdays are kinda close together. STC did the work to get an MTB issue in front of Congress, and IMBA tried to take that opportunity to get their own MTB priorities in front of the committee. Not a great look.

    I’m also not buying the idea that IMBA needed to respond due to their longstanding relationships with affected organizations like the USFS. There was actually a USFS rep. at the hearing, and he, unlike IMBA, declined to offer an opinion on the bill either way.

    • rmap01

      “I’m also not buying the idea that IMBA needed to respond”

      I agree Jeff. Like Ivan’s comment above the only way this makes ANY sense is if IMBA cut a deal under the table with one of these other groups. Either that, or is it possible that IMBA is not supporting (de facto “opposing”) the bill because it does not include ebikes???

    • mongwolf

      Jeff, great way of expressing the point that IMBA really did not need to comment in the hearing. I would add that if IMBA really does have such longstanding relationships with the affected organizations (and they do), they could have just privately made some phone calls to their various contact persons/friends and represented themselves in private with these partners. Or they could have sent out a few private written communiques to them. Or both.
      Either way, in terms of being understood by their partners, whom they are so close with, there would be no need to communicate publicly to be understood by them. IMBA has direct access to their partners and could have contacted them in private easily. IMO, the more IMBA comments on the matter, the more bogus they look in the matter. Honestly, it seems they “struck” STC in public (and from behind) at the most critical moment. Personally, I think it was a betrayal plain and simple. And looking back through this year, I hate to say it, it looks to have likely been a premeditated, well-planned betrayal. Even if it was not, their chosen course of action has sadly been quite destructive for the mountain biking community. Thus, in the end it was poor leadership.

  • LaDeekus

    Here is an example of where passage of HR 1349 makes total sense:
    Bear Valley is a small community in the Sierras, struggling for viability. There is an effort to develop a system of trails for mountain biking to make Bear Valley a summer “Destination” for bikers thus improving the community’s chances for survival. Just to the east of this community, Highway 4 is surrounded on both sides by Wilderness. A trail runs through this wilderness area parallel to the highway but never more than 1/4 mile from it. The trail is disappearing because it is not maintained and hardly used. If mountain bikers were allowed access to this trail, it would be revived, maintained and enjoyed by many as it connects Bear Valley to Mosquito Lakes (adjacent to the highway) and points beyond.
    As it stands, access to this trail would require an act of congress which will never happen. Passage of HR 1349 takes this decision to the CORRECT level of government, the land manager. Those who oppose HR 1349 do so because it is easy. IMBA is ABSOLUTELY WRONG on their stance on this, they should be advocating for it and focusing on working with land managers and other stakeholder organizations to develop a set of rules and guidelines (similar to trail building requirements) that determine which trails may be considered for MTB access.

    • isawtman

      There is plenty of space to the south and west of Bear Valley that is not Wilderness. Bicycling boomtowns such as Fruita and Crested Butte have Wilderness Areas nearby, yet they are doing perfectly fine.

    • LaDeekus

      …and that space to the south and west of BV has some great riding! I referred to a trail that hardly anybody uses, on foot or horseback. It’s currently littered with windfall and un-maintained due to lack of resources and dis-use. If allowed access, the MTB community would certainly clean it up and maintain it. If a person rides their bike on it, how does this violate the intent or spirit of the wilderness act?

    • isawtman

      LaDeekus
      if there is a trail that is in a Wilderness Area
      that is not maintained very well, that’s perfectly fine.
      This first purpose of wilderness areas are land preservation.
      Being a wildlife sanctuary is also an important purpose.
      Recreation is low on the list

  • ACree

    Good summary guys.

    FYI, you might look into IMBA’s declining finances too. I haven’t seen their 2016 990 come out yet, but the ones on guidestar through 2015 show a significant decline in revenues. I suspect that is only getting worse.

    • craZivn

      Their finances declined another $30.31 last week, when I demanded (and received) a refund of the balance of this year’s IMBA subscription. Sent it to an MTB group that actually does pro-MTB things.

  • csteffens

    So let me get this straight: Given the current state of congressional fiscal shenanigans, the aggressive erosion of federal environmental protections, and the threat of a regional nuclear exchange in SE Asia, y’all think now’s a good time to go and amend the Wilderness Act. The proverbial ‘third rail’ of American land conservation policy. That’s cool.

    Just everyone put down your tiki torches and pitchforks and wait a hot minute before you light Dave Wiens on fire or eat our mountain bike babies for breakfast, OK?

    I’m not “reassured” by the “improved” language in H.R. 1349. How did the STC let the House bill get to the committee as an unlimited approval of wheels in Wilderness in the first place? They’ve always stated their position as a nuanced one where regional federal land managers can decide. And why does H.R. 1349 specifically need to mention “survey wheels” and “measuring wheels?” Hmm, those must be for trail maintenance purposes? The STC shouldn’t condone future development or resource extraction in/around Wilderness areas, so go strike that right out of the bill, okay?

    The Senate bill (S.3205) language gives land managers little time (24 months) and *zero* dollars to assess all their Wilderness area trails for suitability of the additional visitor miles from MTBs. I don’t agree with Greg that we should assume this process (revised trails plans, environmental impact studies, public comment periods) can be federally funded or successfully managed without major private donor dollars or very strategic local public advocacy planning. Are the STC and riders ready to organize all those campaigns? Or is it that we hoping that two years go by and mountain bike access is granted to as many Wilderness area trails with as little administrative or public comment as possible?

    Advertainment journalism and internet comment sections are destroying cycling. I’ll take my comments off the air.

    • John Fisch

      1. This doesn’t “amend,” but rather clarifies the intent of the Act.
      2. As far as protection, since bikes are proven to have no more impact than boots and far less than horses, there’s no need to “protect” anything from bikes as separate from other human powered user groups. So the “third rail” concern is irrelevant.
      3. The original language WAS NOT a blanket approval. It only clarified that one paragraph in the Act was not meant to ban bikes. ALL OTHER USFS/BLM/NPS authority was unmentioned and unaffected. These agences would have retained the full measure of all administrative tools and authority to restrict that they currently have discretion on over all the lands in their portfolios. The language was only changed to assuage fears; it was completely redundant and superfluous.
      4. NOBODY is supporting development and mineral extraction. Measuring wheels are used for measuring… which can be done for many purposes… like simply inventorying trails, a capability that would benefit the USFS.
      5. The Senate bill expired in 2016 and is no longer relevant. But if it was, it would be no problem–the USFS has had no problem restricting trails to date, so that wouldn’t change. Rangers are already familiar with the lands in their portfolios and could recommend which trails are not suitable right off the top of their head in most cases. Without the 24 month provision, they could simply sit on their inertia and nothing would ever get done, thus defeating the very purpose of the bill. But again, that’s all just academic at this point as last year’s Senate bill is dead.

      Remember, the vast majority of these trails were closed to bikes with little administrative and no public comment. Therefore, there’s nothing wrong with reversing that.

    • craZivn

      Unless I understand incorrectly, the bill was never an “unlimited approval of wheels”. It is only intended to lift the ban that never should have been in place to start with. Discretion as to whether or not to APPROVE wheels has always been left up to the local land managers according to the bill. The language was amended to clarify this so it could not be mis-interpreted down the road.

      At least that’s my read of the situation. This bill isn’t going to open any floodgates.

      Ivan

    • RonMexico

      “NOBODY is supporting development…”

      I beg to differ:
      http://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/duncan-d-hunter
      http://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/dana-t-rohrabacher
      http://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/kevin-cramer
      http://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/steve-pearce
      http://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/tom-mcclintock
      http://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/steve-pearce

      Here are the voting records of the sponsors of the bill. Pay close attention to their respective records on “forests and Lands”. This is, after all, where mountain biking takes place. This is what has been so baffling and frustrating about reading these articles and comments. How can mountain bikers, in their thoughts and opinions, so completely divorce this bill from the men who have sponsored it?
      Do you believe these men, these lackeys for the lobbies and PACs that would destroy our natural resources, suddenly had some epiphany about the rights of mountain bikers?

    • isawtman

      John Fisch. The intent of the Wilderness Act is already clear. No mechanical transport, which includes mountain bikes. And there is a need to protect Wilderness Areas from mountain bikes. Their impacts are different than hikers, that’s for sure, and their numbers are something like 10 times greater than horseback riders. Even the researchers have admitted since mountain bikers cover 2 to 3 times more ground than hikers in any given time period, they are doing 2 to 3 times more damage. Nobody is supporting development, well, that’s what will happen if you crack the door open. Even Ted Stroll says that the Wilderness Act has only been amended once since its inception in 1964, and that was for a little technical problem. The Wilderness Act is doing great as it is. There is really no need to have it changed by the Republicans who are awful on the Environment.

  • whatup

    folks seem to be confusing “federal lands” with wilderness. IMBA advocates extensively for MTBs on federal lands. wilderness is only one type of federal land, a tiny tiny percentage.

    • John Fisch

      In my home state of Colorado, Wilderness comprises 85% of the backcountry. That’s not insignificant. The numbers are also very high in most states. Backcountry cyclists don’t want to ride logged/mined/roaded areas any more than backcountry hikers want to hike them. If hikers were banned from 85% of their most cherished lands, they wouldn’t accept that one bit.

    • csteffens

      ~24 million acres of federal land in Colorado
      ~3.5 million acres of federal land are in 41 federally-managed Wilderness areas

      3.5/24 = 0.15

      15% of Colorado federal land is federal Wilderness.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, John.

    • LaDeekus

      California is 45.8% federally managed land. The Forest Service manages about half of that (National forests) or about 20.8MM acres. Of this land, about 15MM acres is wilderness! This is NOT a tiny tiny percentage.

    • Jordan Scheremeta

      I Believe John Fisch was referring to road-less areas (i.e., the backcountry). The vast majority of federal land is has roads everywhere. The vast majority of road-less areas in Colorado are either designated wilderness or are RWAs or WSAs and are managed as wilderness (i.e., no bikes allowed). Managing WSAs and RWAs as defacto wilderness is not some new policy only affecting Montana and Idaho. Colorado mountain bikers fought and lost the same battle years ago…now it is just Montana mountain bikers’ turn to lose their most cherished places to ride.

    • isawtman

      Jordan, bottom line is that all these Federal Lands that John Fisch bitches about not being able to ride on, only amount to about 4 million acres in Colorado. There’s something like 14 million acres of Public Land in Colorado. So, there are plenty of great places for John to go mountain biking. Another thing about John, he thinks it’s perfectly fine that mountain bikers come barrelling down a 2 foot wide trail that hikers use, but John himself gets freaked out if there is a road nearby. Hence he is always writing about roadless areas.

    • Jordan Scheremeta

      isawtman,

      Pop open any trail map within the mountains of Colorado, and you will see the issue that mountain bikers are facing. It is easy for someone who doesn’t live here to understand, but the wilderness areas are HUGE swaths of land and they are EVERYWHERE, its not some small piece if the mountains. Almost the entirety of the front-range mountains stretching from Wyoming south to New Mexico is designated wilderness. Wilderness areas encompass a very big portion of the most desirable places to ride a bicycle. On top of that, there are many RWAs and WSAs that are managed as defacto wilderness without congressional approval.

      I don’t stay on singletracks because I am afraid of motorized users. I stay on singletrack because the width of the trail offers me a feeling of being one with my surroundings rather than on a 15-foot wide corridor cutting through my surroundings. The vast majority of the travel corridors through general public lands are 15-foot wide logging/mining roads that are not desirable for mountain biking. Wilderness areas have thousands of miles of pristine singletrack that see too little use for their sustainability as trails. We do have good singletrack for biking in many areas but continuous long-distant trails are off-limits due to an arbitrary ban. Places that could be a mountain biking mecca (telluride, aspen, the entire san juan mountain range etc.) are surrounded by so much wilderness that there is very limited trail mileage open to bikes.

      The point is that this should be a regional decision made by the people who know these lands, their fragility, and use patterns best. There are some ares where it will make sense to allow limited bicycle use in wilderness and others where it will not. If we all work together on a reasonable compromise, everyone will come out a lot better than if we all dig our heels in.

    • isawtman

      Again Jordan, living in Colorado you have over 10 million Acres of public land that are not Wilderness Areas. Go bust a nut

  • isawtman

    LaDeekus, What you are telling us is that California has something like 40 million acres of Public land and you’re crying that you cannot ride on 15 million acres of it? All of us back east are crying for you. States like Texas have very little public lands. My advice to you is to stop crying about it and go out and ride the 25 million acres that is available in California. And the same with John Fisch. Colorado has millions of acres that are public lands. I had heard it was 14 million acres, and only 4 million of them, John cannot ride his bike in. Well go out and bust a nut on the 10 million acres that are available.

    Saying that 85% of the backcountry he cannot ride his bike in is a meaningless statistic. It’s kind of like saying 100% of Wilderness Areas are Wilderness Areas.

    • ACree

      Perhaps people back east should worry about your local access issues. It sounds like you think every acre of federal land is equal. If that were the case, Wilderness people would not be so preoccupied with preserving ‘the best’ of those lands. Which all users would like to use, not just hikers. Perhaps if there were more lands open to you in the east you could spend less time trolling on the web.

    • isawtman

      We do worry about our own access issues. We have limited wilderness areas, and we would like to keep them protected

  • LaDeekus

    isawtman, I think you are incorrect that a blanket ban on all wilderness trails for non-motorized bikes, wheelchairs, etc is appropriate. I am an avid backpacker and daytripper and hold dear the peace and tranquility that wilderness offers. I just don’t get how the presence of someone using a bike or wheelchair on an authorized trail in a wilderness area would ruin a hiker’s or horseback rider’s experience. I strongly believe these decisions should not require an act of congress for each and every instance but that rules, guidelines and local management are a more efficient and suitable approach. I know the status quo is acceptable to you but the land is ours collectively. HR 1349 will not have any impact on the intent of the wilderness act, it simply allows another minimally destructive, human powered mode of transportation to be considered.

    • isawtman

      LaDeekus,
      Wilderness Areas are less than 3% of the Land Area in the Lower 48 states. These are areas that Congress has set aside as being fragile and sensitive areas. Let’s keep them that way. The Wilderness Act has worked perfectly so far. No need to change it, especially when it’s being done by the Environment Hating Republicans.

  • Fast n Slow

    “The Wilderness Act has worked perfectly so far”
    That’s the problem, it hasn’t worked perfectly.
    Excluding a group or group’s just because they don’t do things the way you do, is selfish. This is something that you would expect in a Communist country.

  • jacksonr

    isawtman is just a nasty, hateful troll who hates mountain bikes. that photo of him in front of a bike is camouflage. ignore him.

    what I don’t understand is why is it ok to get a few horses, pack in a thousand pounds of beer and ammo, setup camp for a few weeks, go hunting and fishing, kill some deer, catch some fish, chop some wood, have a big old fire, crank music, cook the deer and fish, get drunk, take a dump in the woods, and sleep in a big old tent, but I can’t ride my bike. if Wilderness is so pristine, why not ban all of that from those areas since wilderness is only 3% of the land, there is plenty more, right ?

    this is just discrimination plain and simple. I don’t like those things therefore they should not be here.

    • ACree

      Right on @jacksonr.

      Somehow they argue that the scenario you describe is low impact, yet a MTBer that rides the same loop in a long day, and is back at the car at dark is somehow more intrusive. Less camping, less fires, less nights in the woods, less pooping in the woods, yet we’re the intruders.

      I am always amazed at the poor arguments made by isawtman. What a tool he is.

  • Zoso

    Don’t get him started on the definition of what is mechanical. He has nothing but flawed logic.

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