The Bitterroot National Forest has just released their updated travel management plan, which includes the closure of 180 miles of singletrack to mountain bikes, due to the trails’ inclusion in two different Wilderness Study Areas.
“We are all pretty depressed,” said Lance Pysher of Bitterroot Backcountry Cyclists, as reported on RavalliRepublic.com. “We knew something like this was coming, but we’re still kind of in shock. It’s real now.”
These trails, which have been closed to mountain bikes, have been maintained and used by mountain bikers for decades.
This latest trail loss follows a string of trail losses in Montana, dating back to about 2009.
As for what methods of recourse local Bitterroot mountain bikers have, the Sustainable Trails Coalition’s efforts in regards to allowing local land managers to decide which trails should be open to mountain bikes in Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas is promising, but seems to be a long ways out. While IMBA hasn’t seen eye-to-eye with STC on their approach, IMBA did announce that they would take a more aggressive stance to fight unjustified trail closures such as this one, and that they’re considering legal action for this specific case in the Bitterroot National Forest. However, we’ve received no word yet on whether or not IMBA will move forward with legal action.
Stay tuned as this story develops.