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IMBA Call to Action – Save Mountain Biking in National Parks

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IMBA has issued a call to action.

If you’re interested in preserving and creating opportunities to mountain bike the National Parks, you need to act now.  There is a lot of opposition to this from the usual suspects (hikers, equestrians, etc.), and they’re well organized and vicious.

Read “more” for the full press release, but this is the deal:  There is a proposed rule change that will give individual park managers more decision making authority over whether to allow mountain biking in their National Park.  The benefit is that decisions are made on the local level based on local usage, trail conditions and environmental concerns.

Critics don’t like this because they still (ignorantly) believe that mountain bikers erode trails and they don’t like the concept of shared-use trails (which, honestly, is understandable…but then again, we don’t want to ride horse trails either).  The real threat to opponents, though, is this:  If decisions are made on a local level, they will have to fight battles on a case by case basis all over the country to try to keep mountain bikers off the trails.  Right now, they simply pay a lobbyist to go to D.C.  If this makes you as angry as it makes me, click here to use IMBA’s auto-fill form with a prewritten letter.  Seriously, it takes two minutes.

If you want to read an opposing view, there’s this post from NationalParksTraveler.com…but the funny thing is, most of the comments following the article do not support their anti-mountain bike rant.  Actually, there are some pretty well written, well researched comments…worth perusing if you have ten to 15 minutes. 


From IMBA:

At long last, the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) has proposed a rule change which will make it easier for parks to open trails for mountain biking. IMBA urges mountain bikers to register comments in support of the rule change. IMBA has been asking for this change since the 1990s. We now enter a 60-day commentary period to make the change official.

Take Action Now! Customized letters are most effective.

You can read IMBA’s white paper analysis of the proposed rule change and view the entire text in the Federal Register online. We know that several groups are working to defeat this proposal — it will take thousands of comments in favor of the rule change to ensure it stays intact.

As the proposal explicitly states, none of the NPS procedures for environmental review — or opportunities for public commentary — will be diminished by this change. What it will achieve is a much more manageable system for adopting mountain biking trails. The proposal states, “As a general matter, the proposed rule provides park superintendents with a more efficient and effective way to determine whether opening existing trails to bicycles would be appropriate in the park unit they manage.”

IMBA believes that this measure will enhance national parks and deserves your support – please file your comments today!

Sample Letter

Thank you for accepting my comments concerning RIN 1024-AD72, the National Park Service rule change for bicycling. I fully support the proposed rule.

  1. The special regulations process that restricts bicycling on trails is unduly burdensome and duplicates protections that are already addressed by the NPS General Management Plan and the National Environmental Policy Act.
  2. This proposed rule would give park superintendents better tools for opening trails to bicycling. It would also treat bicycles like other non-motorized trail uses, such as horseback riding.
  3. Independent scientific studies, including those conducted by the National Park Service, have shown the environmental impacts of mountain biking are similar to those of hiking, and far less than other uses.
  4. The best research regarding social interactions on trails reveals those who encounter other user groups report very favorably on their interactions. Claims otherwise are unsupported by scientific data.
  5. Shared-use trails are a successful management tool worldwide. NPS staff are skilled at selecting appropriate trails for shared-use by hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians.
  6. This rule will aid visitor enjoyment for both children and adults. Bicycling broadens the recreational offerings and gets Americans out of their cars and into the natural world. It connects people of all ages with the natural environment and is a fun, low-impact activity.
  7. Improving opportunities for bicycling and promoting trails tourism could benefit economic conditions for nearby communities.
  8. Mountain bikers are prolific volunteers–conducting nearly one million hours of trailwork on public lands annually–and could help build environmentally sound, sustainable trails.

Thank you for considering my comment. Bicycling is a wonderful way to explore our national parks and I hope the proposed rule change will be implemented.

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