sustainable-trails-wilderness

PRESS RELEASE: The Sustainable Trails Coalition applauds Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) for introducing the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Areas Act. Co-sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Senator Lee introduced bill S.3205, on July 13, 2016.

“Our National Wilderness Preservation System was created so that the American people could enjoy the solitude and recreational opportunities of this continent’s priceless natural areas,” states Senator Lee, “This bill would enrich Americans’ enjoyment of the outdoors by making it easier for them to mountain bike in wilderness areas.” Senator Lee further expanded upon his comments on his official website.

“Utah is blessed with an abundance of beautiful wilderness, and Americans should be free to enjoy it,” offers Senator Hatch, “This bill presents a reasonable approach to allowing the use of mountain bikes on trails and grant federal land managers the ability to do necessary maintenance.”

In 1984, with minimal public input, the Forest Service overturned a longstanding regulation allowing locally based federal employees to decide where bicycles could be ridden in Wilderness areas, replacing it with a nationwide blanket ban. Other agencies followed, the last in 2000. This ruling also prohibits agency field staffs from using many small-scale, hand-held maintenance tools in those areas. Both policies run counter to the intent of Congress when the Wilderness Act of 1964 was passed.

The result of these mistakes is an American public increasingly disconnected from wild places, the opposite of Congress’s intent in passing the Wilderness Act in 1964. Many Wilderness trails have disappeared or have deteriorated to the point that few try to use them. On the trails that remain, human-powered travelers are limited to certain types of walking. The agencies have even banned forms of walking, including for example parents with baby strollers.

“Senator Lee’s bill will modify outdated blanket bans on human-powered travel and relieve a worsening situation,” says STC board member Ted Stroll. “The Forest Service in particular continues to impose bans on mountain biking. These bans drive cyclists away even as the Forest Service admits it cannot maintain trails and needs volunteers to do the maintenance it no longer performs.”

The Sustainable Trails coalition notes that Federally designated Wilderness areas are now ten times the size they were when the Wilderness Act was signed into law in 1964, an area roughly the size of California and Maryland combined. The groups thousands of members contend that a blanket ban not based upon scientific or environmental reasons is a regulatory mistake requiring reversal. Bill S3205 provides on-scene federal land managers the authority to decide on human-powered travel on local Wilderness trails, as was the case as recently as the year 2000 in some Wilderness areas.

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bearCol
bearCol
5 years ago

fight the good fight

gringo
gringo
5 years ago

Beware the ulterior motives of these Utah officials. They have time and again demonstrated that they are on the side of the minerals extraction industry and take any chance they can to take any power possible away from the Federal govt.

I don’t neccesarily agree with the Wilderness bike ban, but when changes are proposed by Utah republicans I would rather err on the side of caution and leave the restrictions the way they are.

I’d rather go hiking in a Wilderness area then have it open to oil and gas extraction and be able to bike in it……

Be careful y’all!!!

AlexK.
AlexK.
5 years ago

I’m with gringo on this one – Mike Lee is suuuuuper conservative and the Utah house spends gobs of time and money on trying to gain control of federal lands. While this is a win for bikers, it’s part of a larger battle with the feds.

Dan
Dan
5 years ago

YES! we need this and everyone out there should be supporting this!

Von Kruiser
Von Kruiser
5 years ago

This is a huge deal. Please everyone donate to STC. They are the only ones fighting against the blanket ban on bikes.

Ron G.
Ron G.
5 years ago

“In 1984, with minimal public input, the Forest Service overturned a longstanding regulation allowing locally based federal employees to decide where bicycles could be ridden in Wilderness areas”

Um, no. In 1984 there were no regulations governing bicycle use in wilderness, and certainly no longstanding ones–mountain bikes hadn’t been around for very long. Individual agencies may have made independent decisions to ban bikes earlier, but those decisions would have been based on interpretations of the Wilderness Act, not regulations regarding mountain bikes. Plus, any recounting of that history should give credit where credit is due–backroom lobbying from the Sierra Club killed mountain biking in the wilderness (and forever ended my support of that group).

And yes, Gringo nailed it–Lee and Hatch are more interested in taking power from federal land managers than they are in granting it to mountain bikers. True to form, they take the bill too far, adding chainsaws to the list of things that should be okay in wilderness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of chainsaws and what they do for trail-building (which reminds me, I need to sharpen my chain), but if we can’t open wilderness to bikes without bringing in two-stroke tools, then we don’t belong there.

elvis
elvis
5 years ago
Reply to  Ron G.

Chainsaws… the amount of deadfall (at least in Colorado – pine beetles) is astounding. Handsaws/axes are not the answer.

NRKO
NRKO
5 years ago

Gringo, AlexK, and Ron G. are absolutely correct about this. Lee, Chaffetz, and Hatch have a larger plan to create a situation where states can grant mineral, oil, and gas extraction rights in wilderness areas (and allow continued subsidies to cattle ranchers using/abusing public land for next to nothing). They are doing this under the guise of facilitating access to recreation, but they are no friends of wilderness or mountain bikers. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Pete
Pete
5 years ago

This issue alone would change my life for the vastly better, but I wouldn’t back it because as gringo adroitly observes, cyclists should not allow themselves to be mere pawns in someone’s deceptive political game of far worse ulterior motives.

Kneel
Kneel
5 years ago

Ron, why shouldn’t chainsaws be available to Federal officials, or their designated work crews on a permit basis in said Wilderness? Once or twice a year, it would be fantastic to be able to go clear trails.

I live right next to a Wilderness area and many of the more obscure trails are becoming even MORE obscure due to lack of maintenance. When you combine a severe lack of manpower and then handcuff that with no modern implements (pruning shears are modern, I know, blah blah blah), it equates to these trails not being around in few years. Just imagine the amount of trail miles we could clear with a chainsaw towed around by a Bob trailer.

I say proceed with caution. Open season on chainsaws – no. Open season for bikes in all wilderness areas – no. Forest Service permit use of chainsaws for trail maintenance – Yep! Bike access where it makes sense – Yep.

brkfstman
brkfstman
5 years ago

As a Utah resident and long time mountain bike rider. I am not opposed to bikes is some wilderness areas. HOWEVER I have not heard anything from Mike Lee’s camp that has lead me to believe he cares about protecting and preserving. I agree with the other posters above Utah republicans seem motivated by taking control from the federal government so the state can “better use our public lands” for oil and gas exploration as well as coal mining. I am not buying the bikes on trails because he cares much about bikes or trails.

JH Aberschmidt
JH Aberschmidt
5 years ago

you guys are playing with fire here. the STC is too new and fresh to understand the long term political ramifications of their actions, and they are going to get us all ar$fokked

traildog
traildog
5 years ago

politics makes strange bedfellows, i heard. support the bill, especially the chainsaw part, but it’s tough to support these senators.

Robert
5 years ago

As I Utah resident for the past 18 years I have learned that our ultra-right wing congressional delegation only serves two masters: money and the LDS Church, Inc. Don’t believe anything these duplicious clerks have to say, especially when it has to do with “local control” of Federal land and a feigned support of wilderness recreation. Mountain biking access is only the latest expedient to paved roads, land leasing, and fossil fuels extraction. Please don’t support any legislation introduced by these corporate pasties.

Chalchalero
Chalchalero
5 years ago

HA, HA, HA, a republican with good intentions when de-regulating wilderness, HA, HA, HA

ridetheworld
ridetheworld
5 years ago
Reply to  Chalchalero

in undergarments

John
John
5 years ago

“STC” is a farce, wolves in sheeps’ clothing…

preston
preston
5 years ago

I whole heartedly support the efforts of STC and I thank Sen. Lee for introducing this bill. Is there language in this bill that increases resource extraction ? or allows granting mineral rights ? It doesn’t sound like it. It simply clarifies the W language to allow muscle powered recreation and some allowance for reasonable trail tools. Let’s take our allies as they come and fight for access. You think the Sierra Club or Wilderness Coalition are pure ?

rich hargus
rich hargus
5 years ago

im surprised that bike rumor did such a white-wash of this issue. mike lee and orrin hatch are bought and paid for by the mineral and oil extraction industries. This was all hustled through in order to placate activists. President obama is planning on making Bears Ears a national monument. That would stop any development and mining in the area and would protect it indefinitely. This mickey mouse bullshit is just typical politics. they both have ulterior motives that have been spelled out by a few comments above. Gringo and Alexk are both on the money. Lee and hatch dont give a shit about conservation or the environment. they view the beautiful parts of undeveloped utah as a non-utilized income source to pump like a whore until there is nothing left but a polluted wasteland. but, a few people will make a lot, lot of money. so i guess the system works!

Adventure Rider
Adventure Rider
5 years ago

So let me get this straight: The Wilderness Act of 1964 was passed after many years of work and a great deal of compromise between conservationists and private interests, with a primary intent being to preserve untrammeled land for people to enjoy without motorized vehicles and man-made amenities such as cabins and toilets. The Forest Service wasn’t too keen on the Wilderness concept due to loss of forest yields (perhaps), so they decide to regulate these lands like it was 1776. Many people were happy. 20 years later the Sierra Club effectively got these new fangled bikes banned based on semantics and before there was an organized voice in the burgeoning mountain bike community. Another 30 years later, after yet another cherished mountain biking destination was wiped off the map due to Wilderness designation, the mountain bikers organized, researched, found favorable historical documents, consulted with government affairs folks, formalized as a non profit, raised a fair amount of money from mountain bikers, and helped get a somewhat historic bill introduced by a Senator in Utah. But people posting here are saying they can’t support this extremely reasonable and modest bill because it will lead to mining, drilling, fracking, hotels and golf courses in Wilderness? If it were that easy to destroy the Wilderness Act — by allowing local land managers to decide where and when bikes can go — you’d think the Koch brothers themselves would have singlehandedly funded STC from the beginning. But that ain’t so.

Ron G.
Ron G.
5 years ago

Kneel–Chainsaws shouldn’t be allowed in wilderness because–chainsaw. I’m sure you’ve heard one, probably smelled the two-stroke fumes. Wilderness is an absolute, and that kind of noise and pollution don’t belong, ever, I believe.

However, I also think mountain bikes (not mountain mopeds, of course) do belong. I also believe, and I’ve put in the trail hours to back up my belief, that if you open wilderness to mountain bikes, we’ll go in with bucksaws on BOB Trailers to clear any trail worth riding. A mule or two can handle any heavy pulling. We don’t need chainsaws and Kubota buckets–mountain bikers have a demonstrated ability to pull together and put up some manpower.

Open up to mountain bikers, and those trails near your house won’t be obscure for long.

ed
ed
5 years ago

After observing the comments above, I say publish teh bills complete text on this website so we cansee for ourselves if it is worthy of out support.

Longbeard
5 years ago

Heck guys; I’m a republican and I agree our party is pretty pathetic when it comes to preservation of the natural resources we have. There have to be happy mediums beyond milking ourselves dry to save a buck. I know alternate energy isn’t where it should be yet but we really do need to consider these things beyond just giving the government free reign to rape the land in exchange for us being able to ride it. Funny side story…my other republican friends’ heads exploded when I pulled up in my recently purchased Chevy Volt, haha.

JC
JC
5 years ago

It looks like the Sierra Club has all their minions out in force.

Leary&weary
Leary&weary
5 years ago

Bingo, Gringo!

gringo
gringo
5 years ago

To those of you saying ‘but there is nothing in this proposal about mineral extraction!’ please be aware that an opening of Wilderness to wheeled vehicles (bikes) and motorized tools (chainsaws) would do one very important thing: it would set precedent. In this case one could argue that, ‘hey, why cant we open parcel XXX up for a gold mine, it will just be a little gold mine, and anyway, motorized tools and wheeled vehicles are already allowed here.’

Legal precident is HUGE when it comes to big issues like controversial minerals extraction permiting.

I want more singletrack to ride on, just like the next guy, but I also what to keep that little something that you find no where else on Earth, and that is the wonderful wild lands that we have in the USA.

Don’t believe these Utah reds when they say they want to open up trails for bikers….THERE IS A HIDDEN INTEREST!

Bikemark
Bikemark
5 years ago

I’d hate for mountain bikers to be the trojan horse for the mineral extraction industry. But that appears to be the case here, as nothing in the record of Lee or Hatch suggests they are friends of the mountain biking community. So the question is: Is the gain worth alienating us from all the other non motorized users who have been our allies in fighting for more state and federal funding? Hell no it isn’t worth it. Find some other way.

Matthew Koehler
Matthew Koehler
5 years ago

Source: http://wildernesswatch.org/images/wild-issues/pdfs/07-2016-WW-Press-Release-Mountain-Biking-Legislation.pdf

New Legislation is an Assault on the Very Idea of Wilderness and the Values of the Wilderness Act

The Sustainable Trails Coalition is attempting to amend and weaken the Wilderness Act

MISSOULA, MONTANA – Last week Utah Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee introduced the so-called “Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Act,” a piece of legislation that would ride rough-shod over the Wilderness Act of 1964 by opening up America’s National Wilderness Preservation System to mountain bikes and other machines. The bill would also allow chainsaws and wheeled devices like carts and wheelbarrows in Wilderness.

For over 50 years the Wilderness Act has protected wilderness areas designated by Congress from mechanization and mechanical transport, even if no motors were involved with such activities. This has meant, as Congress intended, that Wilderness has been kept free from cars, trucks, ATVs, snowmobiles, bicycles, and all other types of motorized and mechanized transport.

“We see this for what it is—an assault on the very idea of Wilderness and the values of the Wilderness Act. Make no mistake, the goals of the Sustainable Trails Coalition are one of the biggest threats to the National Wilderness Preservation System,” said George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch. “At a time when wilderness and wildlife are under increasing pressures from increasing populations, growing mechanization, and a rapidly changing climate, the last thing Wilderness needs is to be invaded by mountain bikes and other machines. “

It’s noteworthy that the Sustainable Trails Coalition had to enlist the help of some of the most anti-environmental and anti-wilderness members of Congress to carry their legislation. According to the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Mike Lee each have a lifetime environmental voting score of just 10 percent, while the most recent LCV scorecard gave Senator Hatch a zero percent and Senator Lee four percent.

Earlier this year, over 110 conservation and Wilderness organizations from across America wrote all members of Congress urging them to oppose attempts to amend and weaken the Wilderness Act and Wilderness protections by allowing bicycles in designated Wilderness. A copy of that letter is here: http://bit.ly/1VFoL1U

In the letter, the groups wrote: “These mountain bikers erroneously claim that mountain bikes were allowed in Wilderness until 1984, but then banned administratively by the U.S. Forest Service. This claim is simply not true.”

“Mountain bikes are exactly the kind of mechanical devices and mechanical transport that Congress intended to keep out of Wilderness in passing the Wilderness Act. Bikes have their place, but that place is not inside Wilderness areas,” explained Kevin Proescholdt, Conservation Director of Wilderness Watch.

“We believe that this protection has served our nation well, and that the ‘benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness’ would be forever lost by allowing mechanized transport and other machines in these areas.”

# # #

ridetheworld
ridetheworld
5 years ago

I saw hatch and lee on the crest trail, and they were ripping. Ripping up the wilderness act.

ridetheworld
ridetheworld
5 years ago

I would bet a book o’ mormon that the STC was formed in 2015 so when this Act was introduced it would seem legit.

Jeremy Isbell
Jeremy Isbell
5 years ago

Beware of Lee and Hatch, their wallets are tied in directly to big oil, (As a Utahn and deal with this BS way to long), they would rather have the public gone from wilderness and turn the lands over to the corporations. Look at the records.

And this is just a bad idea anyhow. As a big time biker this is not needed, keep the wilderness areas wild.

spinnincin
5 years ago

Note the”and other purposes” clause in this bill. This is not about opening the wilderness to bikes. It’s a Trojan horse.