This just in: The Sustainable Trails Coalition’s bill has congressional sponsors and has been introduced in Congress! According to a release on the STC Facebook page, “Senator Mike Lee of Utah introduced the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act, S.3205, yesterday. It’s co-sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch, also of Utah.” This is a truly monumental step, as never before in the history of mountain biking has legislation been introduced to revert the rules regarding bikes in Wilderness back to their original inclusive intent!
You can find reference to the bill right here on Congress.gov. The description of the bill reads, “A bill to allow local Federal officials to determine the manner in which nonmotorized uses may be permitted in wilderness areas, and for other purposes.”
Some Facebook commenters have expressed concern over the verbiage “and for other purposes,” but as with seemingly the vast majority of Facebook comments, those concerns were premature and not based on anything resembling research. According to the STC, “‘Other purposes’ is boilerplate legislative language that accompanies all congressional legislation that this admin is aware of.”
When addressing whether or not this bill would be the vehicle for some other agent of change, such as selling federal lands to the state, the STC responded:
“There’s absolutely zero connection to any other legislative agenda. All the bill will do is (1) allow local land managers to decide if mountain bikers and other currently disallowed human-powered travelers can use a particular trail, and (2) remind the agencies that they can use hand-held and hand-maneuvered tools like wheelbarrows to maintain Wilderness trails better than they now do. All nonmotorized Wilderness visitors should support this legislation.”
So what are the next steps? First, write your senator, and your local representative, to let them know that you support this bill. According to our research, 96% of mountain bikers are in support of mountain bike access to at least some trails in Wilderness areas. The STC will soon have some boilerplate text posted to their website, and a form that will easily allow you to submit a letter to your Congressmen, based on your zip code.
“The second is to share this post so your friends know about STC and the bill,” said the STC. “If everyone shares our info with three friends, and they share with it three of their friends, we can get a few hundred thousand letters to Congress.”
Finally, the STC will need continued funding in order to pay for the government-affairs firm that is pushing this legislation forward. The cost to fund the firm is $120,000 per year, but as the STC website notes, “this effort will take more than a year.”
When I first wrote about why “opening wilderness to mountain bikes is the most important advocacy effort in [mountain bike] history,” all the STC had were lofty goals and ideals, and sound logic. Yet you responded by donating tens of thousands of dollars to their effort! That donation has paid off, and a bill has been introduced to Congress–a truly monumental step.
Let’s maintain this forward momentum! Donate to the Sustainable Trails Coalition, here.
For more information on the topic of mountain bikes in Wilderness, please be sure to catch up on these articles:
- Opinion: Opening Wilderness to Mountain Bikes Is the Most Important Advocacy Effort in History – And STC needs your help!
- Podcast: The STC’s Plan to Get Mountain Bikes into Wilderness, Part 1
- Podcast: The STC’s Plan to Get Mountain Bikes into Wilderness, Part 2
- Responses to the 10 Most Common Arguments Against Allowing Mountain Bikes in Wilderness Areas
I am pretty sure this is a good thing. A really big, really important, good thing.
Great work by STC and mountain bikers supporting their efforts. As a forest ecologist, silviculturalist and USFS forest land manager of years past, I can say that this is the first time I have ever seen a potential reversing in direction of the misuses of the original Wilderness Act. There are several misuses that have evolved over the years. Now, there is of course much more work to do on this particular worthy effort.
First off, you really need to stop claiming that 96% of all mountain bikers support some wilderness access. Your poll was a convenience sample of your readers and you can not in away way claim that it is actually a representative sample of all mountain bikers. I also don’t believe that there was any check to ensure every knew exactly what wilderness designation means and how that is different from say, national forest. So you can not make such a strong generalized claim without a proper scientifically validated survey with a more representative sample of people. You can say 96% of people we polled support some wilderness designation, but I’m still concerned about the validity of the survey questions.
Second, a short look into the history of Hatch and Lee’s rhetoric around related issues and you can see that the STC is best to stay clear away for their own good. It’s like when the mafia offers a favor…Hatch and Lee (especially) have ulterior motives and the STC s about to be a pawn.