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Earlier this month US Presidential Candidate Hilary Clinton outlined her vision for outdoor stewardship if she is elected president. The full details are laid out on her website, but here are a couple key items that could potentially impact mountain bikers.
Double the size of the outdoor economy in 10 years
Clinton’s factsheet notes that the outdoor industry in America, employing 6.1 million workers and contributing $646 billion to the economy, is larger than the pharmaceutical industry. Her plan to double the size of the outdoor economy involves dedicating more Small Business Administration (SBA) loans to outdoor-related business and establishing “outdoor recreation cluster communities” where the government will work to improve infrastructure and promotion. In addition, her plan calls for the Commerce Department to track economic contributions from the outdoor recreation industry like it does for other key sectors already being tracked.
Expand access to public lands
Clinton has set a goal of opening 50% of public lands that are currently closed to recreation and hunting to those activities. From her website:
Because some public lands are surrounded by private lands, an estimated 4 million acres of national forests and other public lands in the West are currently inaccessible to the public. To confront this problem, Clinton will set a goal of unlocking access to at least 2 million acres of currently inaccessible public lands by the end of her first term – halving the amount of public land that is currently off-limits – by pursuing voluntary conservation partnerships with private landowners and state governments to establish new access points, trails, and easements to open public access to public lands.
In addition, Clinton’s plan calls for revitalizing more than 3,000 city parks within 10 years, though it’s unknown whether any of these parks currently serve mountain bikers.
Protect and restore forests
One part of Clinton’s plan that could negatively impact mountain bikers is her focus on “restoring” forests, and building on the current Roadless Rule. Clinton paints an inclusive picture here, but there will inevitably be conflicts between total conservation and responsible recreation.
Clinton will work with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to set clear management goals that not only recognize the value of forests and public lands for sustainable timber, but for the carbon they absorb, the wildlife habitat they furnish, and the recreation opportunities and clean drinking water they supply.
Finally, Clinton notes the National Park Service has an $11.5 billion maintenance backlog, though there is no mention of how this or any of the other proposals will be funded.