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Editor's note: Second in a two-part series on resolving the conflict between mountain bikers and hikers over protecting roadless lands. Click here for the first part, plus a very interesting comment thread. Last week, I wrote about options hikers and wilderness groups had to make peace with mountain bikers so the two key constituencies could work together to protect roadless land. One option was urging Congress to pass another organic act creating a true alternative land designation. But what to call it? In past commentaries, I'm used the words "Wilderness Lite" to refer to various land designations that provide almost as much protection as the "Big W" Wilderness Congress designates under the Wilderness Act of 1964. Basically, cutting to the chase, I can more precisely define "Wilderness Lite" as "Wilderness that allows mountain biking."

Branding Wilderness Lite

Editor’s note: Second in a two-part series on resolving the conflict between mountain bikers and hikers over protecting roadless lands. Click here for the first part, plus a very interesting comment thread.

Last week, I wrote about options hikers and wilderness groups had to make peace with mountain bikers so the two key constituencies could work together to protect roadless land. One option was urging Congress to pass another organic act creating a true alternative land designation. But what to call it?

In past commentaries, I’m used the words “Wilderness Lite” to refer to various land designations that provide almost as much protection as the “Big W” Wilderness Congress designates under the Wilderness Act of 1964. Basically, cutting to the chase, I can more precisely define “Wilderness Lite” as “Wilderness that allows mountain biking.”

Creating this option preserves the holiness of the current National Wilderness Preservation System. All 107 million acres of Wilderness would not have mountain biking, nor would any new additions. But with this new organic act, in some cases, roadless land would have a congressionally mandated designation that preserves wilderness qualities but allows mountain biking. In many cases, I suspect legislation might include some of each.

Wilderness Lite might also allow other acceptable “mechanized” advancements like various climbing equipment, game carts, scouting cameras, chainsaws, hang gliders, and strollers, but the main issue is bicycles.

We already have several Wilderness Lite land designations–National Recreation Areas, National Scenic Areas, National Conservation Areas, Special Management Areas, and National Protection Areas. Going through each of these options would take a lot of words and create a lot of confusion, but here’s one key point. None of these prohibit, by statute, motorized recreation. Congress can, however, mandate non-motorized only when creating one of these areas, but this rarely happens because, in essence, these designations are considered motorized alternatives to Wilderness. See the problem? Nothing in between that allows all forms of non-motorized recreation.

(I should interject that I’m referring mainly to national forests and to a lesser extent land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, not national parks. That’s another issue, and the National Park Service already has a great alternative, national monuments, which have slightly less protection, but where bicycling can be allowed.)

Two examples of this alternative, collaborative “successes” often touted by mountain biking groups are the James Peak Protection Area in Colorado and three National Scenic Areas designated as part of the Virginia Ridge and Valley Act of 2005. But both the protection area and the scenic areas allow motorized recreation, although very limited motorized use in the Virginia scenic areas. That does not make them alternatives to Wilderness.

Creating a scenic areas or recreation areas or protection areas that clearly ban wreckreaction could proceed on a large scale, creating a mish-mash that people might not understand, but would that matter? If politicians had the spines to actually write “non-motorized only” in legalese, this approach might even be a path of least resistance compared to passing the Wilderness Lite Act of 2010, but for those of us who believe we need this type of alternative to “Big W,” it would be better to combine all these Wilderness Lite options included under one brand.

Congress has always had the option of creating a new Wilderness and specifically allowing mountain biking, but this has never happened, and probably won’t in the future, which further begs for a new option.

Also, we should look forward. Take any existing Wilderness off the table. Instead, concentrate on how to protect roadless lands, especially near urban areas, where mountain biking use has become well established just like horse use was established in roadless areas later designated as Wilderness.

In a past life, I wrote brand management plans. I saw the power of branding. In the corporate world, any good business or marketing plan has a good branding strategy as its core. Mountain bikers should develop such a “marketing plan” and the critical first step is creating the right brand.

“Wilderness” is a brand, and a good one. When somebody says the word, we know what he or she is saying.

“National Protection Area” is not a brand. Few people have a clue what it is, nor does it say “non-motorized.” Most people, even most wilderness advocates, haven’t even heard of it. That’s unlikely to change. Ditto for the other current land designations–how many people even know what a National Scenic Area is?

I’ve been talking up this branding idea with a few people who have genuine desire to resolve the conflict between hikers and mountain bikers, and we bounced around various possibilities before narrowing it down to two: “Primitive Area” and “Backcountry.” Both say “non-motorized” and already mean the same thing, sort of, something like “not quite as pristine as Wilderness.”

I prefer “Backcountry,” but think “Primitive Area” would also be a good brand.

So, with that background, I’m going to put up this trial balloon. I propose that wilderness and mountain biking groups join in requesting Congress pass a new organic act called the Backcountry Act of 2010 modeled after the Wilderness Act.

When Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act on September 3, 1964, he also created the National Wilderness Preservation System and immediately designated 54 Wilderness areas encompassing 9.1 million acres in 13 states, including many of our most iconic names like Bob Marshall, Maroon Bells-Snowmass, Boundary Waters, John Muir, Eagle Cap, Bridger, and Three Sisters. Let’s re-use that model, when the Backcountry Act passes, create a National Backcountry Preservation System with a starter list of areas that a majority wants permanently protected but are currently mired in a debate over mountain biking. It won’t be hard to find this starter list. I can think of several here in Montana that would easily qualify.

Here’s the rub. The Wilderness lobby, led by the Wilderness Society, Sierra Club and the Campaign for American Wilderness, might have some serious heartburn over this idea. To be more blunt, they fear it. They know Backcountry will be more popular with politicians than Wilderness. From the day we create a National Backcountry Preservation System, we might not see many more additions to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

For me, a person who wants Wilderness as much as any person reading this, it bothers me to more or less accept defeat on Wilderness, but if we can replace it with Backcountry, I say this looks mighty good compared the rut to nowhere we’re currently stuck in.

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  1. Thanks Bill. Well put. I’m on board with this proposal as I think it makes a fair amount of sense. National Backcountry Preservation System: I suspect a good deal of the Outdoor Retailer community (manufacturers, retailers, etc.) will find this something worth rallying around – as it will provide a new and fresh idea about wilderness and human powered activities in wilderness and will directly benefit their businesses.

    Now, I guess I’ll sit back for a couple of days and watch the posting fireworks.

    (A fun wager might be: How many posts will it take before the first personal attack is made?)

  2. Bill,

    I believe you have contraticted yourself, by stating, “In many cases, I suspect legislation might include some of each” and then stating, “From the day we create a National Backcountry Preservation System, we might not see many more additions to the National Wilderness Preservation System”. Not to worry, the Wilderness machine that Bob Allen mentioned in a reply to your last post has momentum that would ensure that wilderness would be a part of many “National Backcountry Bills”. I am confidant that most properly negotiated bills in the future will be blends of big W and something else.

    And yes, even though National Protection Area is close to what you are proposing, we do need another alternative. What you are proposing could become extremely popular. I don’t think it would replace Wilderness. I think that it would enable more Wilderness with blended proposals.

    My understanding of National Protection Areas is that it allows winter motorized only, and then only if it is written into the bill. So a National Protection Area without any motors is possible, by design. This would then be the same as what you propose. An NPA could help solve some land battles until your proposal becomes real.

    I think that you are heading in the right direction. Now, do you know of any Wilderness groups that would team with bicyclists to bring this designation to our legislators?

    Everyone should be aware though, that there is a minority of backcountry areas out there that have old motorized traditions. These need to be examined, respected, and managment methods found that make the uses as compatible as possible.

    FYI, I am not a motorized user.

  3. I remembered that Blue Ribbon Coalition has some investment in the backcountry designation. They have tried to get support for a bill in the past that was called “Back Country”. The name is close enough to what Bill is proposing that it would likely cause a fight with the BRC is would be unproductive. It would be better to come up with another name, Bill.

    Although BRC has proposed a Back Country designation in the past, it really was similar to a National Recreation Area. They maybe didn’t need to go there, because alternatives already exist that cover motorized needs.

    Why not make a National Protection Area mainstream, if it can do the job? Some of them can be none motorized.

  4. Bill,

    Your proposal deserves serious consideration (I might also add that it equally does not deserve rubber stamp approval.) I hope it receives the attention it deserves.

    One point of contention, “… Backcountry, I say this looks mighty good compared the rut to nowhere we’re currently stuck in.”

    With 2 million acres of new wilderness designated just last month, I’m not sure I see that rut.

  5. Thanks for dredging that BRC “backcountry” designation back up, Greg. I was there when Clark Collins first sprung it. It actually turned out to be a relatively good plan because it allowed necessary forestry, and grazing, but still pretty much banned minerals, which wasn’t so great.
    I talked to a couple BRC board members over the years about why they’d supported it. To be blunt, it was a matter of throwing the minerals people and most of the loggers to the wildernessodiles in order not to lose recreation access.
    And that really is the dynamic here behind “wilderness lite.” Economically, and environmentally, it is wilderness, just with a few bikes added, on parts of the landscape, MOST of which because of simple physics, will become the exclusive domain of the podiatric recreationists. The “sacrifice” made, of a relatively small number of mechanized yet quiet devices, is small compared to the illusory “benefit” of eliminating those nasty motorized everything, both recreational and economic.
    This is pure political calculus on the part of someone who just can’t stand the idea of truly multiple use of a shared resource.
    But since “me and mine only” isn’t getting much headway, nor is NREPA’s “no and no only” zealotry, then the calculus points toward creating an “ours and ours only” sort of, um, alliance.
    Wilderness Lite is still wilderness for all practical purposes, and therefore still counterproductive and elitist.

  6. elitist? In what way Dave? Because hiking boots are more expensive than motorbikes? Because you need to be able to run an ultra marathon to walk a mile? Because hiking and horseback riding forces others off the trail like motor vehicles?

  7. This proposal makes a lot of assumptions and, I think, mistakes…

    – The mountain biking community is given credit for being a much more powerful a lobby than it really is. They are a small minority of forest users.
    – Since they won’t compromise, the wilderness community and majority of forest users (hikers, anglers, hunters, etc.) should?
    – When they do, the mountain bikers will suddenly start cooperating, become “wilderness lite champions”, and neutralize all other non-compromising interests?
    – As you point out, we have lots of wilderness lite options but rather than strengthen those, we should either weaken wilderness or come up with an entirely new designation for this one minority interest?

    A tiny fraction of our country is protected as wilderness. Mountain bikers have access to all the rest. The threats to our natural heritage from logging and destructive development are much greater than the loss of a few trails. Anyone who really cares about the land would never stand in the way of wilderness protections.

    We just got 2 million acres of new wilderness in this country – in most cases through compromise with any number of interests. It’s sad that Mountain bikers have to get lumped together with development interests, ORV groups, the timber industry, and others. But when it comes to wilderness, that is the side they have chosen, and it is for them to bear the burden. Not for the rest of us to cave in to them.

  8. b.s. premise. 09 omnibus lands act created oodles of new, non-motorized wilderness. to suggest that future “wilderness” must be ORV-friendly defies both politics and reality. ORV use has no place on unroaded public lands. we have, what, 5 million miles of roads subject to maintenance backlog on national forests? “can’t ride those, not enough thrill!” please.

  9. why are mountain bikes excluded from wilderness anyway? that seems an unintended mistake of the 1964 Act. as a hiker/backpacker/swimmer/fisher/hunter, i’m not harmed by such quiet uses of wilderness, though bikers should be careful about their soil impacts. ORVs, on the other hand, spoil the experience for everyone else for miles around. they sound like menacing, angry bees. i would propose amending the 1964 Act to permit “mechanized” recreation provided that it is not “motorized.”

  10. The Blue Ribbon Coalition is an extremist group. They even branched out into another group called “WARC” short for Wilderness Act Reform Coalition. Essentially their goal was to end the wilderness act and permit natural resource extraction in those area.

    What does that have to do with the BRC’s main goal of motorized recreation? Not much. The BRC is simply a front for natural resource exraction groups.

  11. We already have a “soft” backcountry designation that is in use by the BLM and USFS. The designation in general is located in Semi-Primitive Motorized and Non-Motorized ROS areas. This designation allows for current uses to continue, but restricts more motorized development, and put extractive land use under more scrutiny. The concept is a decent start,especially if the motorized routes are sustainable and meet the demand of the user. Simple restriction of motorized use can work in areas where routes do not exist, but to try and eliminate motorized use where it currently exist is difficult in the extreme. This is even true in inventoried roadless areas, that may have no constructed roads, but have plenty of motorized routes that have been used for a long time. Through motorized planning, groups must look at what is possible, and not what looks good on a map in a office. To decommission routes is easy (not cheap), but to keep them non-motorized is not. This is especially frustrating when you return to a area 5, 10, 15 years later and realize the decision actually encouraged more illegal routes b/c demand was ignored, and decisions were not followed with funding. Yes, areas have to be designated for non-motorized use, but other options exist that allow for a mix of use in the same general area.

  12. Some readers might be interested to know that wilderness supporters, mountain bikers, hikers, skiiers and backcountry horsemen– 9 southwest Montana outdoor and conservation groups– HAVE teamed up on a cooperative wilderness and bike-friendly non-motorized conservation plan covering 240 miles of the Continental Divide and Flints known as Montana High Divide Trails.

    The Montana High Divide Trails agreement was signed –after 14 months of dialogue, field trips and collaboration –in Sept 2007 .

    Over the course of two years, Montana bicyclists, horseback riders, hikers, hunters and conservationists forged a new unifying vision for quiet mountain trails and wilderness known as Montana High Divide Trails.

    Montana High Divide Trails is the vision of a nine southwest Montana outdoor groups pledged to work cooperatively to expand trails and conserve wild country along 240 miles of Montana’s rugged Continental Divide.

    ”¢ Mountain bike riders will enjoy over 400 miles of quiet single-track trails in some of Montana’s most scenic mountain lands, including 202 miles of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail- America’s longest quiet trail.

    Ӣ Connecting trails link open space, parks, cities and towns on both sides of the Divide giving bicyclists, horseback riders, hikers and other recreationists ready access to quiet trails linked to the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.

    ”¢ Traditional wilderness pack trails will provide horsemen and women wide ranging opportunities to explore Montana’s vast wild lands along the backbone of the Rockies.

    ”¢ Some of Montana’s finest backcountry and wilderness -where grizzly bears, wolverine, mountain goats, big horn sheep, elk, moose and lynx still roam- will be fully protected.

    Montana High Divide Trails would provide permanent protection to some of Montana’s most beautiful wild lands — check it sept 08 join trail project on You Tube –under Montana High Divide Trails

    keep it wild

    Its worth checking out

  13. Here is the link to Montana High Divide Trails on youtube

    The clip shows first annual Montana High Divide Trails Jamboree – last september’s cooperative new trail project
    between IMBA Trail Care Crew, Montana Wilderness Association, Last Chance Back Country Horsemen, Helena Trail Riders, Highlands Cycling Club, Mile High Back Country Horsemen, Helena Outdoor Club, Prickly Pear Land Trust, Helena Bicycle Club, Great Divide Cycling Team and Highlands (Butte) Cycling Club– also Beaverhead and Helena National Forests whose support was essential to allow us to break ground on a brand new section of the Continental Divide Trail between Butte and Helena.

    –yes a new trail in a motorfree wild land area– on the Continental Divide, adjoining the Electric Peak Recommended Wilderness.

    Cooperative conservation works –not with one size fits all answers but a blend of quiet trails and wilderness.

    Montana is a big state -but most of wild country is unprotected.

    join us this summer and find out more about Montana High Divide Trails

    We hope to see the spirit of cooperative conservation spread to other outstanding wild Montana landscapes.

  14. Bert,
    You make several excellent points. I couldn’t agree more.

  15. The heart of the matter as it relates to Bill’s article is that there are really only two groups in this debate. On the one side are the folks who are most concerned about affording protection to our nation’s last remaining roadless areas. On the other side are the folks more interested in retaining places to practice their preferred mode of recreation—in this case, mountain biking.

    After reading through the comments in part one of this two-part series of articles, I’m convinced that there are a few mtn biking enthusiasts who do indeed care deeply about protecting the last of our roadless lands, even if it means giving up the trails they currently ride on. Unfortunately however, the vast majority of comments from the mtn bike constituency revealed something else entirely—that most mtn bike enthusiasts would outright oppose protection of roadless lands if it meant their riding priveleges would be revoked because of a Wilderness designation. But maybe, just maybe, they would consider supporting efforts to protect those same lands if they could ride their bikes there. Maybe.

    Or not.

    Bill, we didn’t need them before and we don’t need them now, despite what you perceive as today’s political reality. Achieving designated Wilderness never did come easy, and yes, it’s going to continue to get tougher over time. More battles will be lost than won. What else is new? Keep up the fight, be persistent, educate whenever you have the opportunity, and stay true to your core principles. Good things will happen.

    But make the compromise you’re suggesting? It defeats the purpose.

    The beautiful thing about Wilderness is that it is there for all to enjoy. I’m reminded of 3 of my closest friends who happen to be mtn bike enthusiasts and will probably read these comments tonight after work. They also have a deep appreciation for Wilderness and the value it provides, and they recreate there at least as often as I do.

    And guess what, they have no problem with leaving the bikes at home when they head to the Wilderness.

  16. Jay Linger wrote:
    “to suggest that future “wilderness” must be ORV-friendly defies both politics and reality.”
    I don’t think Bill is suggesting that. He said that an alternative area that allows motors is not an okay substitute. His “Backcountry” or “Primitive” areas would ban motors. That is also what me and IMBA want.

    Jay also wrote:
    “why are mountain bikes excluded from wilderness anyway? that seems an unintended mistake of the 1964 Act. … i would propose amending the 1964 Act to permit “mechanized” recreation provided that it is not “motorized.”
    Excluding bicycling was not the intent of the 1964 Act. Congress was talking about motorized equipment. It was the agencies in the mid-1980s who decided to ban bikes. There is still an active Forest Service rule, dating back to their original 1966 regulations implementing the Wilderness Act, which says that “mechanical transport” means “propelled by a non-living power source.”

  17. T. Lewis wrote:
    “Bill, we didn’t need them before and we don’t need them now, despite what you perceive as today’s political reality.”

    That really cuts to the chase. The Wilderness movement believes it can afford to alienate the mountain bicycling community.

    Maybe Wilderness advocates can get plenty more designations, because the mtn bike lobby is not strong compared to the long established, well funded Wilderness movement. But what is the long term cost to the conservation movement?

    According to Outdoor Industry Association, there are about 40 million mtn bikers and 70 million hikers. Mtn bikers are a generally affluent, educated, constituency who want to recreate in natural landscapes away from civilization. By their value systems, they are a perfect target for recruitment by Wilderness groups. They are more like hikers than just about any other constituency. Cycling is muscle powered, non-polluting, and silent. Science increasingly demonstrates that its impacts on the land are about the same as hiking.

    Cyclists could be a powerful new source of political support for land protection, if we did not constantly face efforts to kick us out of wild lands. Bicycling advocates want land protection. I want ALL roadless lands protected, and let’s restore wildness to some roaded lands, too. But I don’t see why you must insist on banning bicycling in order to protect those remaining, unprotected lands.

  18. Bert wrote:
    “It’s sad that Mountain bikers have to get lumped together with development interests, ORV groups, the timber industry, and others. But when it comes to wilderness, that is the side they have chosen, and it is for them to bear the burden.”

    We bicyclists have “chosen” to be with ORV groups and the timber industry?

    Mountain bikers are way more like the environmental community than like the timber people. And unlike Blue Ribbon Coalition and other motor political groups, leaders of bicycle advocacy have always supported land preservation and generally do not ally with motor advocates. We are constantly trying to reach out to conservation people. We consistently support open space preservation efforts, giving our time and money and sweat. We signed on to the “Environmental Bill of Rights,” to the Arctic Wildlife Refuge Protection efforts, to the creation of new national parks… I could give you a long list of our conservation support.

    Tell me, please, who is pushing bicyclists away from the conservation movement? We want to be part of your movement, in your tent.

  19. While you guys are arguing about how to exclude everyone but yourselves from public lands, we are “protecting” our natural resources by disallowing energy extraction, grazing, and timber management as well as other recreationalist, we are borrowing money hand over fist from China to buy those necessities from our enemies. The elitists are happy to consume, they just do not want anyone in America to produce and make money. You’d do well to worry about how to make our country self sufficient for the necessities instead of fighting like 3 year olds over who gets to use the playground and shut out the producers.

  20. ex-sierra club member

    The vehement opposition to the NON-MOTORIZED sport of mountain biking on public lands has certainly embittered those of us who love mountain biking in wild areas. I have a degree in wildlife biology and used to be a strong supporter of environmental groups and causes such as the Sierra Club. But the hypocrisies I see in public land management and in the views of many environmentalists have made me much more sympathetic to user groups such as snowmobilers and dirt bikers. If wilderness advocates are going to lump us mountain bikers in with motorized users, then so be it. Some people want to shut everyone out of our public lands except themselves. I never thought I would be saying this, but I am opposed to any new wilderness, and I may just have to go out and buy myself a snowmobile, so I can go poach some so called “wilderness”: where horses, dogs, hunting, fishing, mining, livestock grazing, motorboats and even the landing of airplanes is allowed.

  21. Gary – “when it comes to wilderness protection, that is the side they have chosen”.

    Oldtimer – Your metaphor is a good start. But it’s more like the kids at the city playground banding together to stop the rich older kids from the private school from dismantling the playground and putting it in their own backyards.

    Ex-member – horses, dogs, hunting, and fishing are all allowed in wilderness. So is rafting, hiking, camping, backpacking, scientific research, trail maintenance, and all sorts of other activities.

    Everyone has a right to enjoy our public lands. No one has a right to abuse them. Only a tiny percentage of our country is preserved as wilderness. It’s good that there is a small part of the country some can go to get away from noise, pollution, pavement, espresso bars, and crowds. Motorboats, ORV’s, mining, and “even the landing of an airplanes” ruin that experience.

  22. ex-timber baron

    Hey Ex-Sierra Club Member – I could say that I have a degree in Public Policy & Sociology with a masters in economics and a Ph.D. in natural resource management. I used to be a strong supporter of the “wise” use movement, more development, clearcutting, and allowing airstrips in our National Forests too.

    I never thought I’d say this, but now I am for protecting wild places so that they can be enjoyed by future generations, protect clean air, clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, unique recreational opportunities (and the multi-billion dollar economies they support), my favorite hunting haunts, a sense of solitude and place…

    Turns out wilderness is the best way to do that.

    I may not be able to take my dog to a local park, but I don’t think we should get rid of parks in my city. They provide lots of other benefits and opportunities. Just like wilderness.

    I can hike, hunt, camp, fish and ski in wilderness. Sure I have to leave the car, bike, and chainsaw at home – but that’s a good thing.

  23. Reading many comments above, you’d think people in the west do – and are – one thing. You bike, or you hike, or you ride an OHV, so you are a mountain biker, hiker or OHVr. And you have a lobby that speaks for you.
    That’s just not reality, though. I have mountain biked for 20+ years. During the work week in the summer, it’s a primary form of exercise and recreation. And getting more so, as my knees and hips age. But I don’t believe IMBA or mountain bike organizations speak for me. Because I also trail run, and hike, and backcountry ski and climb and watch birds. And I’m a former wilderness ranger. And I used to own a snowmachine. I still ride one for work. And I enjoy it, sometimes.
    I’m not alone; most of my friends are similar. We have multiple interests, because we want different experiences at different times. To that end, I and many of the people I know want a variety of land protection designations, some that allow more varieties of recreation, others that limit them. Advocacy groups don’t seem to recognize this. You’re for capital W wilderness and everyone who travels faster than a dull plod and wears anything is the enemy (except Bob Marshall); you’re for unlimited OHV access and everyone who travels under their own power is a pointy-headed girly man from Somewhere Else who lacks all common sense. And on and on. Speaking for myself, I have ambivalent feelings about many big W proposals, yet would be enthusiastic about proposals like Bill outlines above in his article. I believe very strongly in Big W wilderness, but I’d like to see Big W advocacy groups get past an all or nothing approach. I’d like to see something similar from mtb and motorized advocacy groups.

  24. Seems like the recreation folks all need to get together and figure out that while they are fighting amongst themselves, less happens to protect the places they all want to go. OK…we did finally just get a big wilderness bill passed…but where was Montana?

    This would be an interesting comparison…how many acres in this country are used for mining extraction, logging and other private industry profit /natural resource extraction from public lands, vs. how many acres of protected roadless, quiet non-motorized lands are left?

    It would sure be nice to see some areas in Montana designated that are not just the tips of the Rockies and other places so remote that you can’t get to it to extract anything anyway…

    Thank you John Gatchell…is there an update on this trail system?
    Great article Bill. Thought provoking.

  25. First of all oil only exists in certain places, it it is where it is, pretty or not. Please explain how you are going to get to your hiking place without using gas to get to the trail head. Generally speaking it is not those who live and work in an area that are insisting on single use of land…only what they themselves want to do, no one else. That means you are burning a lot of the fuel you do not want produced.
    Ideals are nice, but I want my grandkids to have food to eat and transportation so they can work, places to play after that.

  26. Pretty much a repeat of the comments from part one, but with more produtive commenting. I am all for Bill’s designation as I still know that mtn bikes do nothing more to harm the land than a hiker does. Opening up more user groups should be an obvious strategy at this point. More voices speaking the collective message can only be a good thing.

  27. 70 MILLION Hikers, WOW that is a big constituency. But wait, that does not mean 70 Million people go into these “Big W” Wilderness areas. That would be a huge exaggeration. I would look at how that study defined HIKER. I suspect about 68.5 Million of the HIKERS counted in that study, walked for some distance in a park they drove to and drove back to the motel or RV after. I suspect there are maybe a few hundred thousand people who this year will walk more than 1 day from a campground carrying a tent, ect. The actual wilderness user is the most Elite recreationalist. Why? Because they have the most limited restrictive view of how to enjoy the outdoors, it’s their way or the HIGHWAY, [add laugh track here]

    Responsible motorized recreation public land users, in good faith over the years, compromised with preservationalists agreeing to be shut out of certain areas for riding rights in others of EQUAL value and accepting government regulation of their equipment, such as their exhaust systems. Did you know Motorcycle Spark Arrestors are stamped USFS Approved and that comes from a deal in the 70s, part of which was a promise of opening NEW areas to motorcycles? We all cooperated with the promise that we would be given our share of public lands. Talk about broken deals. We have compromised so much that there is little left to lose. It’s not difficult for a critic to find OHV users engaged in “illegal” activity, most of what was legal land usage a decade ago has been made illegal, by new laws and restritions.
    You must realize that the more land that is shut down the more the motorized use will be concentrated into less and less land area, which will inevitably cause more management problems?

    Frankly, you keep on closing land and you’ll create MORE outlaw dirt riders, mountain bikers, ATVers, Jeepers. And we will have NO STAKE in preserving anything, you can’t and won’t maintain a trail you are a criminal for riding. We will go deeper and deeper into areas to not be caught.

    Remember the Law of Unintended Consequences before acting rashly.

  28. Bert, T Lewis, & ex-timber baron, BRAVO! You said it very well. What the mountain bikers and other “wise use” or frankly exploitative types don’t understand is that we NEED other species to exist and thrive. And therefore, we need to do whatever it takes to preserve them. That includes affording wildlfe habitat the maximum protection that we are currently capable of: Wilderness.

    All those mountain bikers and ATVers who are loudly proclaiming their (non-existent) rights to abuse the land wouldn’t be so happy if the result were dirty air, dirty water, no new medicines, nothing appetizing to eat, and nowhere nice to recreate. But that is EXACTLY where their policies would take us. Ignorance is not really bliss! Ignorance is Bhopal. Ignorance is Three Mile Island. Ignorance is parks ripped to shreds by mountain biking. Luckily, mountain bikers are a very loud, but very tiny, minority of the population.

  29. I still don’t get it Mike. You keep saying that mtn bikers destroy the land and “parks ripped to shreds by mountain biking” but there are no facts to back up your statements. Every time a study is linked that says that biking has the same impact as hiking you call us liars. But I have yet to see any study state that we are in fact doing so. Why are you so stuck on that point when I really don’t see anybody else backing you up on that. Your links on the other article comments are only links to your own work and I don’t think that qualifies. I just don’t get the animosity, why all the hate for anybody who enjoys the outdoors on a bicycle?

  30. stephen schneider

    You might be interested to know that the USFS in Oregon in the Bend area is interpreting the wilderness designation to prohibit kiteboarding in the snow in a huge open field in the winter in one of the very few suitable areas for the sport within hundreds of miles. They don’t damage trails or erode stream banks, they are totally silent, they are not even mechanized. Hikers and horseback riders have a far greater impact on the terrain. But there you have it. Is this a national policy or just a overzelous forest service division?

  31. MTB = 3 Mile Island
    ATV = Bhopal

    Mike, call your doctor and tell him you ran out of your medication. That”s delusional exaggeration of threat and a symptomatic of paranoia.

    A point you continually try to make is how small the MTB community is. I think the Wilderness Hiker is the minuscule constituency here and is vastly over stated. I read the Outdoor Recreation Study, there aren’t 70 Million Hikers that go into backcountry in America. I imagine if you counted real user numbers across the USA, there would be a motocross track in Yosemite.

  32. Out here in the real world,
    From a press release issued by AMA [American Motorcyclist Association] on Tuesday

    U.S. House hears testimony on measure to designate 24 million acres of public land as Wilderness

    PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) submitted comments today to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources arguing against a bill that would designate more than 24 million acres of public land in Western states as Wilderness or Wilderness Preservation System land.

    The hearing was held in the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands of the Committee on Natural Resources. The legislation is H.R. 980, the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act.

    “This bill is especially disconcerting due to the fact that it’s being proposed by a representative from a densely populated urban area, New York City,” said AMA Vice President for Government Relations Ed Moreland. “In fact, it is being considered without the support of a single member of Congress who represents the affected districts. Shouldn’t the people who live in these areas have some say in whether or not they should be banned from riding in them?

    “To keep OHV riders from being shut out of even more public land, we have to act immediately,” Moreland said. “Concerned motorcyclists, ATV riders and others must let their lawmakers know that they enjoy motorized recreation, and that we have a right to do so responsibly on America’s public lands.”

    Moreland’s written comments submitted to the U.S. House included the following statement: “Our public lands are for the enjoyment of all Americans and not just an elite few who would have you build a fence around them for those who are physically able to enjoy them. Enthusiasts who enjoy the public lands of our nation are not just the nimble and fit but also families with small children who wish to recreate together as well as active senior citizens and the handicapped who enjoy the freedom to access the outdoors that OHVs and ATVs provide… In fact, a compelling argument could be made that this type of broad legislation does more to protect public lands from future generations rather than for future generations.”

    The full text of Moreland’s statement can be downloaded here:

  33. Cody:”I still don’t get it Mike. You keep saying that mtn bikers destroy the land and “parks ripped to shreds by mountain biking” but there are no facts to back up your statements.”

    There are, but you apparently don’t care to actually READ them: Do your homework first.

    “Every time a study is linked that says that biking has the same impact as hiking you call us liars. But I have yet to see any study state that we are in fact doing so.”

    Then you haven’t looked. Try &

    ‘Why are you so stuck on that point when I really don’t see anybody else backing you up on that.”

    You don’t see only because you don’t LOOK!

    “Your links on the other article comments are only links to your own work and I don’t think that qualifies.”

    So junk science that “supports” mountain biking qualifies, but nothing else “qualifies”?

    “I just don’t get the animosity, why all the hate for anybody who enjoys the outdoors on a bicycle?” I don’t hate anyone. I feel sorry for mountain bikers, who daily risk death, disability, and impotence, for nothing but cheap thrills. I hate mountain BIKING — and for good reasons.

    Notice that NO ONE has ever tried to challenge the 1994 court decision, including IMBA. That’s because there’s no case: any land manager has the right to protect the lands they manage, and that will NEVER change! Live with it.

  34. Mike, all you did is provide links to articles YOU have written. Look at that first link where you told me to do my homework. Look at the author…., how is that supposed to be taken by the masses. You are telling us, “I am right and here is a paper I wrote saying I am right, this makes me right”. Well it doesn’t, it means you can write you opinions in multiple places is all.
    You say the other studies are junk science but your breakdowns of them are just your opinions, no facts at all. I have read your articles and I have seen nothing more than you using your own form of logic to break down those studies. Studies that, so far, only you see as bogus.

    Feel sorry all you want, I don’t care about that. Your hate is what is really shining through and maybe that is something you should analyze. We do what we choose and you do what you choose. The facts support the reality that bikes do not impact trails more than hiking and there should be no problems in me letting you enjoy what you do and you letting me enjoy what I do. It is all equal in the eyes of the land and should be in ours as well.

  35. Cowboy Charlie

    I have to agree with ‘by joey’s’ comment of 4-30. I don’t see the supposed rut either. The Wilderness Act is working fine judging by the 300 plus new wilderness areas that have been created in the last 26 years in the West. This has happened under four different presidents, and many sessions of Congress. I would say the current system based on the wisely crafted Wilderness Act of 64 will continue to serve the land and the people for many generations to come.

  36. Cody: “all you did is provide links to articles YOU have written”. You are LYING. My articles reference all of the so-called “scientific” papers on the subject. You obviously haven’t read any of them, so have no idea what you are talking about. Can you imagine what grade you would get if you told your teachers “I’m not going to read Shakespeare (or anyone else), because I don’t agree with his conclusions. “F”!

    “The facts support the reality that bikes do not impact trails more than hiking”. There’s a big difference between my SCIENTIFIC PAPER ACCEPTED BY 10 SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCES, and you totally unsupported assertion. That’s obvious to anyone who’s not a mountain biker. You couldn’t argue your way out of a paper bag.

  37. I am still confused Mike. Every link you provided was written by yourself,
    “The Impacts of Mountain Biking on Wildlife and People —
    A Review of the Literature
    Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.
    July 3, 2004”

    How does this make me a liar? Or is there another Mike Vandeman, Ph.D.? Calling me names does not change any of the facts I have stated, just makes you seem a tad bit raving. You are not helping your cause and I am beginning to wonder if you are just trolling the comments, picking fights for no better reason than to fight. Either way, it is hardly constructive and I hoped for better dialogue than what you are providing.

    And some friendly advice. All this hate and animosity is hardly healthy. Don’t live a life so full of either as you will only be miserable for it. Try opening yourself to other ideas and use a little empathy when dealing with others. You may find that you have more in common with them than you realize and get a little insight into yourself as well.

  38. Bill, the other thread . . .

    . . . seems to be having technical problems. I had to send my post three times yesterday for it to be accepted on the website. Someone tried to post today and I got an e-mail notification but his post doesn’t appear on the thread.

    Maybe 250 comments is the absolute limit your software can handle? The thread may be a victim of its own popularity!

  39. Wheelie of Death

    Cody – thanks for your input to this process but it is time to disengage with MJV Ph.D. Focus on being part of the solution not part of the Ph.D.s problem. Ignore the windbag.

    Ride On!

  40. Kind of funny as I just read this:
    and came to the same conclusion as well. I know what he is doing but worry that others will read his comments and be influenced by them. John Kerry got rocked during his election campaign because he didn’t respond to the rediculous accusations. Thought I would try to give other readers a chance to learn the facts before making their own decision by providing counterpoints. We definitely have a troll on our hands and I am with you Wheelie, consider him ignored from here on out.

  41. Wheelie of Death

    Exactly – just imagine him in a helmet with a muzzle in a closet wearing leopard tights and hording brussels sprouts while imaging cycling Pinocchos at the door any time you are tempted to respond to the Ph.D.’s diatribe.


  42. Cody: “How does this make me a liar? ” Easy: You said “all you did is provide links to articles YOU have written”. That’s not all I did. I read and evaluated all of the alleged scientific research on mountain biking. Mountain bikers are entirely incapable of discussing their sport without lying. Here’s another of your whoppers: “The facts support the reality that bikes do not impact trails more than hiking”. Where are these so-called “facts” documented? You are just bluffing. You can’t back up your statement with any science, as I can. You are all bluster, and no substance. It’s obvious to anyone who isn’t a mountain biker.

  43. T Lewis wrote “the vast majority of comments from the mtn bike constituency revealed something else entirely—that most mtn bike enthusiasts would outright oppose protection of roadless lands if it meant their riding privileges would be revoked because of a Wilderness designation.”

    Why insist that bicyclists and roadless land protection are mutually exclusive? This attitude is precisely the crux of the issue and why the timing of Bill’s article couldn’t be more appropriate and the need any greater for a bicycle friendly, permanent Primitive Backcountry COMPANION designation to, not a replacement of, Wilderness.

    I’m not sure where T Lewis got that impression from the last article and subsequent thread that cyclists oppose protection of roadless lands. The overwhelming tone from the cyclists is that we can compromise and support new, SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE Wilderness designations when we are included in the process and greater access debate. We don’t need or want access to every trail every where but when it comes to roadless lands where bicyclists have an established use decades long and these lands are included in a proposed Wilderness bill without input from cyclists, we are put in an adversarial position by this Wilderness-at–all-cost tactic. The goal is permanent protection of roadless lands not to get bicycles into existing Wilderness areas.

    The comment also highlights the attitude of many Wilderness advocates that believe Wilderness is the only option to protect roadless lands and we should just suck it up because cyclists who don’t support knee-jerk Wilderness plans are not conservationists or don’t care about the land and wildlife. BS. It is precisely this all-or-nothing attitude that has prevented any new Wilderness in Montana for 25 years.

    Wilderness in its current form that bans bicycles will no doubt be a component of any future roadless land protection packages. The key here is a PACKAGE deal. Boundary adjustments, corridors, cherry stems and companion designations are tools to be considered in any package.

    Cyclists are willing to listen, collaborate and contribute when we are treated as willing PARTNERS and not just part-time pawns of convenience. It is interesting to note that while the High Divide Trails Agreement is an admirable piece of collaboration among diverse users that preserved some good riding opportunities on roadless lands including CONTINUED access to 202 miles of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail around Helena and Butte, the Montana Wilderness Association was simultaneously negotiating the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership Strategy that completely excluded cyclists from the table and did not concede one foot of established cycling usage across the rest of the BDNF. The Partnership’s 573,000 acres of Wilderness in 16 areas cuts the heart out of the cherished high alpine trails that have been ridden for decades including some of the best sections of the CDNST. The Montana Mountain Bike Alliance has repeatedly asked MWA to have a dialog in the same collaborative spirit of the HDTA about the rest of the lands affected by the ‘Partnership’ but have been rebuffed every time. In one example non-motorized cyclists helped forward the agenda to support proposed Wilderness but in the other we are excluded, banished and thrown under the motorized bus in favor of proposed Wilderness? Interesting politics – tough to navigate.

    What would be really helpful in future access negotiations is for the Wilderness organizations to establish a Memorandum of Understanding with a cycling organization such as the International Mountain Bike Association that spells out the Wilderness groups’ position on bicycles in the backcountry and acknowledge their impacts on the landscape based on science and the ability to share. It’s hard to trust the motives of the Wilderness groups, when, like in last September’s Federal District Court hearing on the Gallatin NF Wilderness Study Area lawsuit where the MWA lawyer presented as fact to the judge that “because mountain bikes and motorcycles have similar impacts on the land and other users they should be managed the same.” Really? Come on! A consistent base line position free of hyperbole needs to be established that can be counted on and built upon. The Primitive Backcountry designation needs become a viable protection tool as well.

  44. “T Lewis wrote ‘the vast majority of comments from the mtn bike
    constituency revealed something else entirely—that most mtn bike enthusiasts would outright oppose protection of roadless lands if it meant their riding privileges would be revoked because of a Wilderness designation.’

    Why insist that bicyclists and roadless land protection are mutually exclusive? ”

    T Lewis is right on: mountain bikers HAVE opposed, and continue to oppose, Wilderness designation, just because it precludes their taking their bike there. They talk as though “cherry-stemming” is no big deal, but it IS. If its no gid deal, why not cherry-stem a city street into te Sistine Chapel? Or into a children’s playground, or the Whitehouse lawn?

    The fact is, that would seriously harm the goals that Wilderness seeks to achieve. It would introduce nature-harming technology, noise, and far more human presence into an area that is primarily wildlife habitat. Do you want animals running through the middle of your house? The wildlife don’t appreciate the presence of people (the fewer the better), and vote with their feet: the ones that are sensitive to the presence of people (which is most of them) leave the area and effectively lose that area as habitat. Or they DIE, if they can’t find enough suitable habitat nearby. That is inexcusable, especially when the solution is so simple: just ban bikes from Wilderness, and make the Wilderness as large as possible. The ONLY people who are upset by this reasonable policy are mountain bikers, who are a tiny minority of the population, and who refuse to tell the truth about their selfish, destructive sport.

    This is not so difficult to understand, so the only conclusion is that mountain bikers understand, but pretend not to, and are simply being dishonest!

  45. Wheelie of Death

    BS as in Brussels Sprouts!

  46. Mike V. go troll somewhere else you negative nilly you. We don’t need anybody inciting non productive discussion. Plus, I heard you are a golfer, probably the most destructive sport on the planet. You have a lot of looking at yourself to do before you can tell others what is right.

  47. Cody: “Plus, I heard you are a golfer, probably the most destructive sport on the planet. You have a lot of looking at yourself to do before you can tell others what is right.” The mountain bikers’ standard of truth must be the lowest on the planet. You should check your information, before spreading lies. (Hint: that means ask someone who’s not a mountain biker.) As a matter of fact, I have never played golf in my life. Too boring and destructive — JUST LIKE MOUNTAIN BIKING, as a matter of fact!

  48. Wheelie of Death

    I did check out the golfing lead. It must be TRUE because I found it on the internet. Just like your honest ‘professional’ papers…

    Ya right! Please get a life. Be part of the solution or get back in your closet.

  49. Wheelie of Death: “I did check out the golfing lead. It must be TRUE because I found it on the internet. Just like your honest ‘professional’ papers….” I studies all the alleged science on the subject. Cody just posted something without checking it. If you can’t tell the difference, … you must be a mountain biker. Their middle name is “Libel”.

  50. Mike, you responded just like they said you would. So you must be a golfer. What’s your handicap?

  51. Cody: “Mike, you responded just like they said you would. So you must be a golfer. What’s your handicap?” My handicap is the habit of telling the truth about mountain biking, even when mountain bikers would prefer that I shut up. Of course, you lied about their website: “Q: Does Mike Vandeman play golf?
    A: Hell if I know”.

  52. Cody: Also: “Mike is right about a lot of things”. You conveniently ignored that. Typical mountan biker dishonesty.

  53. I said that “I heard you are a golfer”. I read it off a link on the internet about you. Like wheelie said, if its on the internet it must be true. Same amount of credibility as any link you have posted, its now up to you to prove its not true. Golfers all lie so following your logic, you just be lying about not being one…

  54. Some excellent news has materialized in the last week.

    A number of organizations representing user groups that have traditionally eyed one another with hostility, or at least unease and suspicion, got together and came up with a set of guidelines for safe and enjoyable trail-sharing.

    According to a press release dated April 29, the groups involved include “the American Endurance Ride Conference, Americans for Responsible Recreational Access, American Motorcyclist Association, American Trails, Back Country Horsemen of America, BlueRibbon Coalition, California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division, Cycle Conservation Club of Michigan, Equestrian Land Conservation Resource, International Mountain Bike Association, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, Loomis Basin Horsemen’s Association, Motorcycle Industry Council, National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, Off-Road Business Association, Open Beaches—Trails, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, Tread Lightly!, and United States Forest Service.”

    The guidelines and possibly the press release can be found at some of those organizations’ websites.

  55. I’ll quote from the press release:

    A group of national and state trail advocacy organizations representing equestrian, OHV, and bicycle interests recently completed a collaborative effort to develop a new guide called “Sharing Our Trails – A Guide to Trail Safety and Enjoyment”. The guide is intended to be used in a variety of ways such as incorporation in trail brochures, magazine articles and trail education programs of all types.

    The purpose of the guide is to improve safety and improve trail satisfaction for all trail enthusiasts on multiple-use trails. To quote the document itself, “In many parts of the country trails are open to and shared by equestrians, OHV riders, bicycle riders, runners and hikers. Trail sharing can and does work when people respect each other and work cooperatively to keep each other safe.”

    Deb Balliet, CEO of The Equestrian Land Conservation Resource stated “We all recognize that there are techniques and practices that will keep trail enthusiasts safe and improve the quality of our experiences. This guide represents the efforts of a broad range of trail enthusiasts working together to develop an understanding of each other’s needs and develop a guide that specifically tells trail enthusiasts what steps to take when they meet on the trail”.

    Jack Terrell, Senior Project Coordinator for the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council said “Understanding other trail enthusiasts’ needs, particularly when it comes to safety, is critical to minimizing conflicts and maximizing the enjoyment of all trail enthusiasts. This guide goes a long way toward promoting that understanding among everyone on the trail”.

    Daphne Green, Deputy Director of the California State Parks OHMVR Division stated “We are proud to work with the organizations involved in this effort to devise programs and initiatives to minimize user conflicts, increase safety, and enhance enjoyment of our public recreation opportunities”.

    Lori McCullough, Executive Director of Tread Lightly!, Inc. said “The Tread Lightly! ethic has always encouraged respect and courtesy between all trail enthusiasts, but conflicts still occur. This joint effort in educating all recreationists on the best practices for sharing trails shows common ground and collaboration can lead to improved trail experiences for all”.

    Jim Bedwell, Director of Recreation, Heritage and Volunteer Services for the US Forest Service stated “The groups that came together to produce the guide for sharing trails on our public lands are to be commended for their view of “the big picture.” Outdoor recreation provides many benefits to people, communities, and the economy. An attitude of sharing increasingly scarce resources and cooperating safely is paramount to sustaining these benefits.”

    Tom Ward, California Policy Director for the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) said “This set of guidelines was developed after an extraordinary collaboration between equestrians, mountain bikers, hikers and motorized trail users. It includes suggested rules of etiquette, which provide understanding between users, and will create a safe and enjoyable experience for all. IMBA was pleased to be involved in this effort.”

  56. Karen Sullivan

    Well, for one, I will stand behind Mike V. and all the research he has done.

    I have been involved in biking (road), hiking, running and horseback riding all my life, and unlike the majority of the mountain bikers I meet, am NOT in denial about any of the damage and/or negative effect’s user groups have….Coming from a horseback perspective, I support trail closures in wet weather,
    keeping horses out of especially sensitive areas, low-impact use, restricted access, etc.

    What I read from the IMBA propaganda, is a goal to put Mountain bikes on every dirt trail in this country, regardless of wildlife impacts, trail damage and user conflicts.

    MBikers are in total denial that they may endanger other users plus ruin their trail experience. How could a user group going 2-5 times FASTER than the other user’s NOT be a problem? For years I loyally supported unrestricted multi-use because, of course, we all should share the trails, right? One afternoon on a shared-use single track trail where I got dumped hard once by a mountain bike appearing fast out of nowhere on a trail with little visibility…and a second one racing down a hill toward my horse, not 10 minutes later, really did open my eyes and start my quest for the honest truth about what is REALLY happening on shared singletrack…please read the Equestrian Land and Trails Coalition’s guidelines for Safe Multi-Use Trail Criteria, to attempt to understand why all trails should not be multi use, if they don’t have the requiring grades, visiblity and width to accomodate the faster user….

    The problems and dangers and truth are documented….please research the Majority Report, the Supreme Court decision on Babbit vs. Marin Bike Council, and the FERC decision at Oroville….
    Land managers have legal right to determine who uses trails, period, and damage and user conflicts are a fact.

    Mbikers seem to generally be in denial they cause erosion and trail damage, not to mention off trail damage (does gravity biking, racing and free riding and biking ring any bells?) Bike tires on muddy trails leave tracks that channel water dowhnills, accelerating erosion and creating gullies.

    They are in denial that their increased speed and range may negatively affect wildlife. There is a vastly greater importance to wilderness than just recreational use, and being treated as a playground! That is why we require and need wilderness in this hectic, mechanized world…places where natural, fragile ecosystems still exist. To demand access, and to remove support for expanding wilderness designations is beyond short-sighted and selfish.

    There are places bikes, horses and yes, even people should not go. The value of this in the natural world is more than we can even imagine.

  57. I am not disagreeing with you Karen. There are places that a bike is inappropriate and there is potential for user conflict.

    I am also for closing trails during certain weather conditions for ALL traffic. A bike is hard on muddy trails but so is foot and hoof traffic. The only real issue I see from your post is potential for user conflict and I think this can be managed. Some areas like parts of the Wasatch front in Utah have scheduled days for bikes for foot traffic. This is a possible solution.

    But really, what we are talking about is new Wilderness designations and why bikers are opposing them. I am opposed to the Boulder-Whiteclouds designation as it will kick mountain bikers off of hundreds of trails they have historically enjoyed. Not because of impact, or even user conflict as it has been multi use for non motoroized from the beginning and the disgnation is not to resolve any of those issues. It is to preserve the area. The area can be preserved just as well with bikes allowed as without.

  58. If people would just stop thinking about mountain bikes the way they do commuter and road bikes, the wilderness would be a better place. Mountain bikes are akin to motorized dirt bikes. Just because they are “mechanized”(non-motorized) does not make them benign. Lumping mountain bikes with hiking and horses, is just plain ignorant.

    Remember Sesame Street’s song: “One of these things is not like the others,One of these things just doesn’t belong,”. Mountain bikes and dirt bikes do not belong on the wilderness trails. WHY? Because both kinds of “bikes” sport knobby fat tires, dual suspension and disc brakes. Ergo, mountain bikes do not belong together with hiking and horses. Duhhh!

    Many riders of both VEHICLES wear full-face helmets, and body armour for “protection”. Meanwhile, who is protecting our wilderness and trails? Don’t fall for the “wilderness lite” ruse, folks. It is a sham.

    The solution for mountain biking is to contain it to a private resort, bike ranch etc. — just like skiing and golf, etc. There are already places around like that. Successful, too. Anything less than that is not responsible to our disappearing natural places.

    It is high time good people stand up to these freewheeling redneck scofflaws who have taken over the wilderness on their “mechanized/non-motorized” wreckreational off-road vehicles for a cheap thrill.

    The problem is that too many people who have real influence. like Bill. are compromising our wilderness away 🙁 The mountain bikers won’ t compromise, so why should the hikers and equestrians?

    It is time to take back our wilderness, Bill. No compromise! It is costing our wilderness, dearly. And that is a crying shame. Let’s work to corral all kinds of thrillcraft, including mountain bikes.

  59. I agree with Lainey,
    The modern mountain bikes get closer and closer to dirt bikes every year- all they lack is a motor. Both groups love speed and thrills…and THOUSANDS of miles of trails and dirt roads exist for off road vehicles; a huge area for mountain bikes to use without endangering other users. Why not ride in those areas and not have to worry about hikers and horses getting in the way?

    The other place multi-use works well is huge, open spaces with unrestricted visibility and room to get out of the way. For those of you in Marin County, The Bolinas Ridge Trail is a great demonstration of multi-use…you can see someone coming a half mile away, a double track (bikes going fast one way and horses going fast another way pass each other), and no cliffs to get pushed off, etc.

    And don’t get me started on Marin County…the birthplace of mountain biking….what is the true story here? Did mountain bikers ever “request” permission to ride on hike/horse trails, or did they just start using them? Were any studies done on this to determine safety? The $ of damage from illegal trail building, and conflicts with other users are well documented….there are valid reasons why so many trails have been closed to mountain bikes…..

    Plain old common sense tells us that putting a much faster user on a singletrack trail system historically used by slower users is going to get people hurt…..aside from common sense, it’s well documented.

    Yet, when you attempt to try to “compromise” with mountain bikers by suggesting “speed limits” on the trail, not a single one yet has agreed to consider it….hence my deduction that it’s basically a very selfish user group only out for themselves. The places they claim work well for multi-use often don’t. I have met very considerate mountain bikers and try to likewise move my horse off the trail when I can to avoid having someone pedaling have to stop…howver,, this sort of interaction only works well when all user groups are GOING THE SAME SPEED and have time to react.

    Getting back to Wilderness designation…I belive the current status of no mountain bikes in “wilderness” is the right way to go…and any additional lands added to wilderness…

    Cody, google “The destructive impacts of mountain biking on Forrested landscapes” if you dont’ believe there is any negative impacts from taking mountain bikes into pristine areas…do the research…the facts are out there…

    BTW, I am a huge advocate for bicycles as transporation, and a former road racer. THAT is where bicyles can truly come into importance as non-polluting vehicles, speedy transport in a congested city, exercise and recreation. So, I am by no means anti bike.


  60. Lainey, You are one looney elitist. I quote:

    “It is high time good people stand up to these freewheeling redneck scofflaws who have taken over the wilderness on their “mechanized/non-motorized” wreckreational off-road vehicles for a cheap thrill.”

    GOOD PEOPLE, as defined by whom? You and a Sierra Club Committee I suppose!
    Scofflaws only in your eyes, the vast majority of us “Wreakreational rednecks” want to ride in LEGAL areas and that’s what this debate is about. Legal Access. As the rideable areas have decreased, it’s not hard to find a law-breaker riding where it was legal a decade ago.

    CHEAP THRILLS, hey you maintain and feed a couple dirt bikes and ATVs, you see how cheap it is… No really again it’s just your VALUE JUDGMENT as to what is appropriate enjoyment of public lands. We differ, oh hell yes, but we are citizens and we have access rights too.
    Once we get a LEGAL riding area, we still have to fight to keep it.

    EXAMPLE the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (ODSVRA), located in southern San Luis Obispo County, CA includes approximately 1,500 acres of sand dunes and 5.5 miles of beach areas open for use by motorized vehicles. The site is operated and managed by the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division paid for with tax dollars and off road FEES. Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) recently filed a formal notice of intent to sue the California Department of Parks and Recreation over its ongoing authorization of motorized vehicle use at the popular recreation site for alleged mortality of wintering snowy plovers, a threatened species of bird. They found ONE DEAD BIRD that may have been run over. ONE! This CBD is just an organization that files lawsuits and has several pending to thwart already agreed to OHV access programs across America.

    So I have to agree, No More Compromises – Get OHV Access to every inch OHVers can, any way we can because there will be Laineys and Mike Vs and CBDs trying to take it all away.

    I see now my primary sins are body armor and full-coverage helmet
    what a dumb suggestion.

  61. I think we should make horses that have wheels instead of hooves. Like giant horsey roller skates. We could call them horikes. It would really be the best of both worlds. Or we could teach horses to ride mountain bikes, and then we could ride the horses. It would be much better that way. The horses are probably tired of walking anyway.

  62. Motorcycles are often called Iron Horses

  63. Karen, I know what you are saying and sympathize with your point of view. I see and deal with user conflict in my position in the cycling community and have worked hard to alleviate them. They happen though and will continue to happen. Trails become more popular every year and honestly, the biking community is a big part of that, probably the fastest and possibly only growing user group in my neck of the woods.

    What we don’t want is to loose access to trails we have historically enjoyed. This is a major issue with us and we will take a position against that loss.

    I did your google search, now do one for me. Google, “mountain biking impact vs. hiking”. I have done research and I have come to a conclusion based on it. I am not saying bikes do no damage, they do. But so does every other user group and the horses are more to blame than any other non motorized out there. I am not saying ban horses, I am saying lets not alienate me and force me off historically enjoyed trails and expect me to jump on board with you. Just not a realistic expectation or request.

  64. Cody: “I am opposed to the Boulder-Whiteclouds designation as it will kick mountain bikers off of hundreds of trails they have historically enjoyed.”

    Why do you find it necessary to keep repeating that lie??? You know very well that mountain bikers are capable of walking, and thus will never be “kicked off the trails”. The fact that you can’t stop lying implies that you don’t really have any good arguments.

    “The area can be preserved just as well with bikes allowed as without.”

    You also know well that bikes enable humans to access far more land than they could on foot, multiplying their impacts by several times. That’s not fair to the wildlife. After all, the wilderness is their HOME. You wouldn’t want animals tramping through YOUR home all day.

    “I am not saying bikes do no damage, they do. But so does every other user group.”

    Still being dishonest. Mountain biking does far more damage than other user groups, including driving away other trail users. By the way, horses, deer, and other animals that have a right to live in wilderness don’t do “damage”. They have every right to live as they want to, even if they “damage” a human-created trail. The biggest damage of all is the creation of the trail in the first place, and the concomitant displacement of wildlife from their home. If course, I don’t expect mountain bikers to understand. It would seem that none of them have ever taken a biology class.

  65. Mike, you are sounding cranky again. Not get your round of golf in today? Sorry to hear that buddy. Maybe tomorrow…

  66. Lies, all lies! Mountian bikers are nothing but a bunch of snake murdering, trail destroying demons released from the gates of hell! Their only purpose is to run over peaceful, innocent hikers who love to smell sweet wildflowers in the spring. They wear spandex!!! What kind of monster wears that stuff? They drink a foul mixture called Gu made from the blood of the sugar cane! They have their own gang: IMBA. International Mean Bikers of America! I despise their pretty little bikes and their fancy, pantsy helmets. Save our world; destroy the demon plague!

  67. But riding horses is like stepping back in time. The time of John Wayne and those pesky indians. A beautiful, simpler time of indentured servitude and pretty flowers everywhere. Fertilized by the manure of our labor force. Nobody asked the horses if they wanted to bear us and our supplies. Nobody gave them a choice, we just expect them to do it and assume they enjoy it. Hmmm, do they? They can go just as far into the back country, farther in most instances and do far more damage than cycling so that part of the anti bike arguement is negated right there..

  68. You raise a good point Cody: do horses enjoy carrying our fat asses around in the backcountry? I don’t know. I’ve seen some horse packers that seemed very well fed (famine prepared). I wouldn’t want them sitting on my back whipping my ass up a mountainside. I did attempt to ask several horses, but they remain a taciturn bunch and would not answer any questions. Then one of them tried to bite me. Disturbing interaction.

  69. TRau, FYI Mr. Ed said it’s OK.

  70. Cody: “They can go just as far into the back country, farther in
    most instances and do far more damage than cycling so that part of the anti bike arguement is negated right there.” You aren’t listening. (1) Horses have a right to go wherever they want to. They don’t “damage” anything except your trails. (2) Whatever horses do has NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on the damage that mountain biking does. It doesn’t lessen it one iota. Removing bikes reduces the harm to wildlife and people, regardless of whatever else is done. It greatly reduces the human load on the wilderness, because mountain bikers are mostly too lazy to walk: if they can’t ride their bikies, they will take their marbles and go home, pouting all the way.

    I’m still waiting to hear why you LIE so much. It only worsens mountain bikers’ already rotten reputation….

  71. I lie at least once a day. Usually for about 6 or 7 hours straight. Sometimes for shorter but I try to avoid that as it seems to mess with the more important, scheduled lie that is important to my health both mental and physical. Why I do it, well that is my little secret and I am not going to let you in on it. Although if you ever discovered it, it might improve your mood. I know that when two year olds get crabby, it is almost always the cure.

    Mike, you are aboslutely nuts. Damage by one user group is totally ok, even though it does far more than any of the other user groups. But OH No, if a bike does it it is evil, lying, super villains bent on destorying your personal view.
    Add to this fact that you are a golfer who is responsible for more environmental damage per acre than anything I can think of at the moment makes you a monumental hypocrite. No go suck your thumb in the corner and think about what you’ve done.

  72. Karen Sullivan

    1. I would like to see current scientific studies what prove horses do more damage than any other user group. In many parks, horses are classified as low-impact users. I agree totally horses need to be limited to dry, sustainable trails. No argument there.

    The rest of the conversation about horses has turned into stupid sarcasm….again leading me to believe that Mountain bikers do not want to, or cannot discuss these issues rationally and logically as they will never admit that their sport ruins the trail experience for others or endangers them.

    So….lets take horses out of the picture….now I am just an older hiker, or backpacker…my reflexes not as quite as sharp as when i was younger, fitter and carrying a BABY in a backpack on the trails and could JUMP out of the way quicker….so I can still walk into the wilderness on my own two feet. Now I have to rely on the good will of the mbikers to slow down to not run me over…..

    I would like the Mbike defenders to come forth and give me examples of how THEY have to compromise for other users…and what they are willing to do? Are you guys willing to ride with safe speed limits, all the time? Are you willing to ride on trails wide enough that other users can get out of the way? Are you willing to get off on very steep downhills and walk your bike to adhere to speed limits? Yes, there are many considerate and polite mbikers, as well as rude hikers and horseback riders, no argument there…but again, it;’s the speed of the mbiker which puts everyone on risk….EVEN the mbikers, who seem to think that injuries and crashes are some kind of badge of honor…and that your compatriots who manange to kill themselves, some sort of heroes…

    I could care less about the silly, bright clothes and helmets and the tough-guy; gladiator like persona some of you guys aspire to….I admire a well-made bicycle, be it road bike or more rugged version….no issues there. My personal preference in going into wilderness areas is for quiet and solitude, and to be surrounded by nature..

    My objection here stems from the ACTUAL danger to other users, which is NOT perceived ,but documented…and the damage from tire tracks, which creates banks, and gullies, and wears dirt off a nice-footing trail down to rock….

    Several years ago, a speeding bike on a downhill trail in Santa Barbara pushed TWO HORSES AND RIDERS over the edge…a mother and 8 year old child…one of the horses was killed…how to you defend this? One idiot mbiker claimed the riders should have been on that trail (due to grade)…pretty ironic since horses have been climbing up and down steep hills for hundreds of years and do it quite well….no mbikers who commented on this were willing to admit that the guy was going TOO FAST, or that perhaps they did not belong on this trail. How do you guys justify that?

    One year at Pt. Reyes on a “multi use” fire road, Stewart Trail, which leads to: 1. the horse camp. 2. the horse rental stable and 3. the horse-trailer parking trail head; a group of speeding bikers came zooming down at the intersection which splits and goes to the trailhead and stable. A group of horseback riders was heading out of the stable, and one of the bikers hit his brakes and literally skidded under the horse. The horse stepped into one of the wheels, caught his leg and spooked. The outcome was the rider was dumped and airlifted out, and the horse destroyed. Please note this was a multi-use trail….and NOT a singletrack where mbikes are totally banned at Pt. Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National REc. Area. Yes, a bit sad we cannot all share the trails, but the history of mountain biking has proved without a doubt, (again, Majority Report and Babbit vs. Marin), that having bikes, horses and hikers on a singletrack trail and even other multi use trails is a NON-COMPATABLE USE!!!

    I am also still waiting for some response to my comment that mbikers can use and enjoy off-road areas…of which there are thousands of miles, and that type of thill-seeking use…

    This is why it makes sense to lump mbiking in with ORV use, and NOT foot access on trails, be it horse or hiker.


  73. I have posted links to current data that proves that horses impact trails more than any of the other non motorized user groups. They were under the comments of the first part of Bill’s article. But if you want to believe, google it yourself. It is well documented.

    I live in a city of about 200,000 people and have trails not 10 minutes from downtown. All of our trails are multi use and are very heavily used by all the groups in discussion. Conflicts do happen, every group has its bad apple but you are correct, bikes are traveling faster and have to take that extra responsibility. Speed limits are not realistic as who is going to say what is too fast and how are you going to know when you have exceeded that. But what is realistic is “controlled speed”. It is up to bikers to impose the responsibility that if you can’t see far enough ahead to stop at your current speed before an obstacle presents itself, you are going too fast.
    That is the approach we have taken and it has been a bit of a struggle at first. But it is working. Nobody wants to see or hear of somebody getting hurt. Nobody would knowingly create a situation that causes harm so it is a matter of education and peer pressure. We have taken a very active stance with an education committee to meet at popular inersections, post signs, organize trail maintenance days and use all of those venues to get the word out. Teach all the users about trail etiquette. This is the answer.
    Bikes are just a tool, it is the user of the tool that has the potential to be a problem. Who knows, in ten years we could have some new techological toy that gets another user group on trails and what are we going to do then? Get a standard for education established so that every new type of user can be brought up to speed on trail etiquette. The population is only increasing and I am seeing more and more mtn bikers every year, forcing them to ride on every decreasing miles is going to cause all sorts of negative backlash and is just plain short sighted.

    I feel for your scenarios Karen, I really do. I am concerned about losing trail access and think there is a better way to protect that land than by making it a wilderness area.

  74. Karen Sullivan

    Cody, I will go back and look at those links, what I have seen in the past is either produced by IMBA, or out of date… (horse damage, etc)

    But, I just don’t think expecting Mbikers to control their speed is going to work, nor has it worked in the past. What is the REAL objection to posting speed limits? And, don’t most mbikers have Gps’es or speedometers on their bikes? At least, it gives the person hurt some recourse if a biker going 35 MPH over a blind corner runs them off a cliff.

    As far as new technology having to be accomodated, I see no reason why a land manager is under any obligation to let them on dirt, singletrack trails, if they are a danger to other users. There are many, many other places for “mechanized” use…the best being existing pavement….

    Historically, I don’t believe most parks or public lands planned for moutain bikes. They showed up, and started using trails without granted permission. It was just sort of assumed use. It has not worked well, due to the excess in speed. Trails gets closed to horses AND mountain bikes all the time…sad but true. Just becuase a certain population wants to use a public trail for a certain purpose, doesn’t mean this should be concensus driven….

    In my book, resource protection comes first. At a local public area, over the past 19 years, I have seen very little damage to trails from horses, but a huge amount of erosion from mountain bikes….and here comes the other problem…racing….and training for racing……which has a HUGE impact on the trail….and where to people train for racing? Public trails, and areas that will hold races…so mbikers show up to train on the course…in which they are TRYING to go as fast as possible….how can this be good for other users?

    This gets back to private parks for mountain bikes, or ORV areas….what is wrong with ORV areas for mountain biking?

    I do appreciate the opportunity to discuss with without name calling or insults…and my mind is not closed down…if you want to send me a specific link on horse damage, that would be great….In my state (California), and in the places i ride horses, I am in full support of closing trails in wet weather. What I am finding also, is that if a trail does not get a certain amount of use, it will totally disappear….something we are dealing with right now.

    One further comment….a barefoot horse, or one with a rubber boot, does very little damage to a trail. I see more trails chewed up by steel-shod horses than barefoot ones….and this is something that is increasing in use (barefoot riding)


  75. Bill Schneider

    For a very interesting, insightful look at the mountain biking and wilderness issue, check this out….

  76. Karen,
    You are right in that getting bikers to ride at ‘controllable’ speeds is not easy. But we are dealing with a rapidly growing user group. If you cram them in to a smaller area, there will be more conflict and more pirate trails built to accomodate the numbers and trail riding experience. It happens all over and increasingly, the Forest Service is working to assimilate pirate trails as there is little to gain from fighting them once established.

    I like bike parks, they are a great but they are not real trail rides. I have a bike park nearby and I go there to jump and ride skinny wood bridges and work on technical skills. But my first love is to trail ride. Go out for 3 or 4 hours and get above and beyond where 95% of the mtn bikers go. Just like any hiker, I like to feel like I am alone out there in my experience and I do look around and smell. I will stop and pull out my camera or just look and smile.
    I do not have a computer on my bike and do not know how fast I go or how far. I see no point in that. I don’t care more than a casual curiosity, it is a personal experience and to me, is my church. I am far from a religious person but being out on my bike on single track up in the hills/mountains is my spiritual experience.
    Granted, it is a rush and a workout and I do go fast at times. All those comments are true but it is so much more than that. And to add to the speedometer thought. I don’t think I would want a cyclist watching his speed nearly as much as paying attention to what he is doing. I kind of think of it like a driver and a cell phone or stereo as distractions.

    I don’t want in the Bob Marshall. I don’t want to water down existing wilderness designations. I just don’t want my churches made unavailable to me or anybody else who feels like I do about them. If I have historically enjoyed a trail system and have been riding for years with no sign or negative affect from my tires passage. I will be a hard sell to me to make it wilderness and push my bike out. Granted, different regions have different soil types and need to be looked at independantly, but my areas of concern or no worse off for bike traffic.

    I have no knowledge first hand about the alternative to steel horse shoes but see credit there.

    Thanks for the intelligent debate Karen. I much prefer this to being called a liar. If there was a way I could privately share my email with you, I would do so to make this more personal and convenient.

  77. Karen,

    I can sympathize with your bad apple examples of mountain bikers crossing the line of responsible behavior and endangering others and in the process damaging the reputation of our activity and the effectiveness of our advocacy. I just cringe when I hear these stories – it gives all cyclists who venture offroad black eyes.

    I also feel for the plight of Marin county trail users and many of the California (and others across the country) trails systems that see a lot of pressure from a large population base wanting to recreate in a concentrated area. These urban interface and front country areas face unique challenges and only work if everyone abides by rules. Speed limits are tough to enforce. Education, peer pressure, trail design and trail share programs are ways to mitigate user conflict.

    To bring this back to Bill’s article about what to do with roadless wilderness quality lands – user conflict on trails generally occurs within the first mile, two or three from trailheads where 95 percent of the usage occurs and the trails are most crowded. As you venture further from the trail heads into the backcountry the user numbers drop dramatically as does the yahoo factor of the users. To generalize wildly, I have found that those who choose to hike, ride bicycles or horses past the front country into the backcountry are doing so because they value solitude and the beauty of the land which requires a mastery of their chosen mode of transportation, a physical commitment and the self responsibility to survive out there if an accident or weather changes the plan. I find these people to be the most responsible and considerate folks I know and they value and respect their venue of worship.

    To extrapolate bicycle encounters in the storied Marin County to mean that bicycles should be banned from roadless trail systems nationwide by Wilderness-only designations doesn’t fly. Here in Montana over 1,000 miles of singletrack that has been ridden by bicycles for decades is on the chopping block under the Forest Service Region 1 Recommended Wilderness ‘philosophy’ that bans bicycles without a guarantee that these land will ever become Wilderness. Many of these trails, like the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, are remote, spectacular and completely under used to the point of being overgrown. The small, economically depressed towns near that trail wish they had some user conflicts because you can ride all day long and not see another soul. These are the lands / trail systems that could benefit from a blended protection package like Wilderness combined with a National Protection (Primitive) Area or a simple boundary adjustment, cherry stem or corridor to provide for recreation opportunities and permanent conservation. This is an example of how the cycling community could support new, socially responsible Wilderness.

    Cyclists don’t want access to every trail in a block of roadless land and can support new Wilderness but this requires being at the table when future access to these lands is being discussed. There needs to be another viable tool for protecting roadless lands besides just the big W that allows bicycles.

  78. For Bob Allen: Thank you for stating a logical viewpoint in an eloquent, straightforward fashion. I agree with everything you wrote. Unsafe, reckless mountain biking destroys opportunities for everyone. The overwhelming majority of mountain bikers do not ride out of control, and certainly do not want to harm others using the trail system. Having a voice in the creation of new protection should be the number one priority for mountain bikers. Thank you for writing in this thread.

  79. Cody: “Damage by one user group is totally ok, even though it does far more than any of the other user groups. But OH No, if a bike does it it is evil, lying, super villains bent on destorying your personal view.”

    No damage is good. But comparisons are really irrelevant. The only issue is whether mountain biking is harmful, because it is an ADDITIONAL impact. No one is considering which ONE activity will be allowed. Hiking and sometimes horseback riding are always allowed. Of course, even mountain bikers admit that it is harmful.

    Bob Allen: “I can sympathize with your bad apple examples of mountain bikers crossing the line of responsible behavior and endangering others and in the process damaging the reputation of our activity and the effectiveness of our advocacy. I just cringe when I hear these stories – it gives all cyclists who venture offroad black eyes.”

    We might take you seriously, if it were just a few “bad apples”, as you claim. But in fact, this kind of thing is repeated frequently in every park in the country. I see it almost evey week, on a trail that is off-limits to bikes.

    The bottom line is that bikes and nature just don’t mix, any more than motorcycles, ORVs, or bulldozers do. It’s not that hard to understand: just ask yourself how a snake would like to get run over by a mountain biker on knobby tires. Or how would your grandmother like to be run into by a speeding mountain biker, while she is busy smelling the flowers. The answer is obvious (to everyone but mountain bikers).

  80. Karen Sullivan

    `Cody, I also appreciate the opportunity to discuss this. And we may have huge regional difference that influence our opinions, experiences and perspective.

    I do recognize that many mbikers are considerate and polite. But, getting back to the speed issue, and your desire to ride without worrying about speed, or looking at a speedometer….you CAN ask yourself if you are going significantly faster than a hiker or horse. If you are, in an area with a narrow trail, limited visibility and drop offs; you are putting other users at great risk, despite your good intentions.

    The danger comes from the faster user, something the mbikers just seem not to understand or admit to. This is incompatable use.
    It is putting a faster vehicle on a trail with foot traffic…to me this is the singlemost important issue.

    Therefore, it really doesn’t matter if you are 1 mile from the trailhead or 25, when that biker flies around the blind corner and plows into you….and far harder to get medical help if you are way, way out there.

    The population pressure idea also doesn’t fly with me. Again, just becuase one user group is growing or putting pressure on park officials doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do..and again, nobody is preventing the growing population from lacing up a pair of hiking boots or sneakers for a hike or jog on singletrack trails.
    I assume that the majority of younger mbike users who are capable of zipping down the trail and also capable of walking….and information I have seen recently claims mountain bike sales and use has dropped….

    Bob Allen says “Education, peer pressure, trail design and trail share programs are ways to mitigate user conflict”, but I truly don’t see this has made much change in the past 20 years.m. Because it truly comes down to consideration for others, i.e. common sense that slower users are on the trails (that the mbikers already know)…it is not as much about education as it is about consideration and accountability.

    To TRau, it is not just the “out of control”, mbikers that are a problem….a individial going 10-15 miles an hour on a hiking trail can pose a definite danger. Again, incompatable speeds.

    No one yet has commented on my suggestion the mbikers use the ORV and ATV areas….Hollister, California, has a State Park run ORV area, supported by state funds. It accomodates 4Wheel drive, quads, dirt bikes, etc….one way trails….it provided MEDICAL AND RESCUE personnel (my daughter is EMT there),….why is this not a good place to mountain bike? Has anyone biked there?

  81. Wheelie of Death

    “It accomodates 4Wheel drive, quads, dirt bikes, etc….one way trails……why is this not a good place to mountain bike?” Precisely for the same reason you don’t hike there…

  82. Karen, I thought I addressed your bike park idea fairly extensively. Reread my post and let me know if I can clarify my opinion. Overview, they are great and a lot of fun but don’t fill a void that a lot of bikers long for.

  83. Karen Sullivan

    Hello Cody,
    I thought your main reason for getting bored with the “bike park” was the limited mileage. Hollister has 62 miles of trails, shouldn’t that meet your criteria for a 3-4 hour trail ride? And, I bet the terrain is pretty much like Coe Park, where there have been issues with Mbike use…

    Wheelie of death-the reason I would not HIKE the ORV areas would be to have a slower, unhurried trail experience without people whizzing by me fast….what is the mbiker objection? Speed is encouraged, fun and thrills…and, certainly you could hear them coming and get out of the way…much like other users have to get out of the way for mountain bikes….

  84. Look, Karen a Park like Coe or Hollister Hills or any other is not the variety Wreakreationalists want and hikers seem to think variety is only in their territory. I say we put hikers in little reserves and have them walk the same trails over and over. After all if we let them loose in the Wilderness and they’ll get their asses lost then the public will spend thousands of dollars looking for them with helicopters and dogs. No restrain hikers for their own safety and lower the burden on law enforcement when we have to go search for them. [disclaimer: above text maybe of satirical nature]

    Spend a couple weekends at any 1000 acre park and you’ll have done it all. OHV, MTBs deserve a fair share of tax-payer owned lands. Just because we don’t enjoy slowly plodding along does not mean we abdicate our citizenship rights to share in all public assets nor does your enjoyment of walking mean I have to share that perspective to have public land access. That is elitist.

    The latest land grab, the 2.1 MILLION acres slipped through on a trick by Reid, has caused a lot of hard feelings and millions of off-road enthusiasts will remember.

  85. Wheelie of Death

    Well if simultaneous sharing won’t work then it would seem that the only solution left is to trail share everything. A day for hikers, a day for horses, a day for mtbs and etc. We all could then celebrate our own selfish usage for 24 hours every few days on a given trail. With proper scheduling, every user group should be have a trail available nearby for there own private use. Don’t like speedy bikes? – no problem. Don’t like ornery hikers? – no problem. Don’t like sarcasm? Oh well…

  86. Karen,

    While parks are great, they are not an end all solution. I have close to 200 miles of single track starting not more than 20 minutes from my front door. I ride around 4 times a week, often covering 100 miles a week on trail. There are times when I feel like I have ridden the local trails too much to get excited about them with that much mileage accessible. Thus, we travel. Travel to Stanley, or the Boulder Whiteclouds, or the Danskins, or Sun Valley.
    The point is, 60 some miles is great and will do wonders to alleviate conflict in congested areas by giving riders a place to dedicate to their sport. But it is not the solution. We love to get out on our bikes back in the forest I’m sure as much as you do on your horse.
    I absolutely love a good trail ride that gets me up and above the congested city I live in. To get to a simpler place where it is just me, my trusty steed, and how much water I brought along that limits my travels. I hike a fair amount and can tell you that I never feel as connected to the terrain as I do when on a bike. I feel every roll, every climb, every rock. When you get to that point where you are one with your bike on the trail, it feels like you are running your hand along the contours of the land the way the bike rises and falls with the terrain. Bikers call it ‘flow’. When you find the flow, you feel aboslutely in tune.
    I am not saying it is not about adrenaline. There is that too in every ride. It is a rush and it is exciting, but it does not need to be in conflict with other users. I still think that education is the the only real long term solution.

    Sorry if I got all rambly there, I get lost in myself sometimes when I talk about riding…

  87. Karen Sullivan

    Wheelie of death, and Max… then, where is the “trail day” for me to drive my Kubota tractor down the trails for fun? i promise I will pull over for hikers…do i have the right to do that? No……

    You are forgetting your mbikes have NO RIGHTS to the trails! This has been established by a U.S. Supreme Court decision and the appeal was also turned down. Why does this not sink in?

    Your record of “playing nice” has not worked either

    As far as the Hollister bike park…gee, the State Park (our taxes) already pays the salaries of a crew of rescue and EMT’s to go pick up the pieces of the bozo’s who destroy themselves wrecking the land…and even tows the pieces of their vehicles back to their camp, gratis…..and even though they are PAYING my daugther to do this, I surely resent the $$$ spend to allow people to destroy nature…..

    I would hazard, per user, far more cost rescuing injured mbikers than hikers….this was certainly what was relayed to me by a State Park Ranger who patrolled Annadel park in Santa Rosa, CA, and experienced all the mbike crashes and resulting injuries.

    Also…check out the acerage in Hollister…um….much more than 1,000 acres.

    If MILEAGE is your goal….go buy a road bike and check out some of the lovely backroads in this country. You will have to deal with a few jerk drivers….but then maybe you will begin to understand the feeling and dangers of dealing with you guys on a singletrack trail.

    VEHICLES, even non-motorized, do not belong in the Wilderness…..

  88. Cody, bingo, you struck common ground with me. Now I can more understand your personal connection to the land while biking.

    Can you try to explain how you reconcile your love for that adrenaline rush, to dealing with other users on the trails? Do you mainly assume, in your rides, that nobody else is out there? Do you slow significantly in areas of poor visibility or blind corners?

    I used to distance ride the horses, and we would get moving at a sustainable trot…the majority of the places we rode were extremely remote (and we were the ones keeping trails open by both riding and a whole lot of muscle)…and you were very unlikely to run into anyone else. Now, especially after getting dumped by a mbiker, I am a whole lot more cautious. Move much slower and ride like around every blind corner there is another trail user…

    BTW, not sure if this will help my credibility any, but I log in a whole lot of trailwork hours (last month was at least 67 hours physical lopping and sawing), and put in at least 3 requests to local land managers to close trails in the winter to horses (and bikes).

    Curious also how many of you mbikers stay off muddy trails…in parts of the country, seems trails might stay wet a whole lot of the time…


  89. I am always advocating controllable speed. This is a bit abstract but it is the speed in which you can come to a stop before you hit something. Uphill traffic and slower traffic ALWAYS has the right of way. That means on a blind corner, you are going slow. On a wide open trail, you can let it fly. For each person it is somewhat different, depending on braking skill and efficiency of equipment but there is no excuse for running somebody off the trail. It is a personal responsibility and one that must be taught.

    There are also times when I am so far out there that I know that odds are I am not going to see another soul and feel I can let my guard down a little more on the downhills.

    You mention bike parks though, and that is one place where you can guarantee there will be no user conflict areas. Those are the places to go to get your pure adrenalin rushes. Trail rides are never the place to think that way though. Everything has to be enjoyed within reason.

    We have worked really, really hard here to keep people off the trails when wet and all user groups are just as guilty. Signs, media campaigns, forums, word of mouth. This year we announced that there are going to be seasonal trail closures to all users during times of muddy trails. The problem is that we have no way to enforce this. Not law enforcement jurisdiction and we the people have no rule over a possible offender. (This is the same situation that would arise if there were speed limits) We shall see how this pans out next winter as it is easily the worst for our trails. Too much clay and the vegetation has a really hard time recovering from people going off trail to avoid the mud.

  90. Cody: “I still think that education is the the only real long term solution.” That’s so vague that it’s meaningless. Are you going to “educate” mountain bikers not to like speed? Mountain bikers have been saying that for two decades, with nothing to show for it. Are you going to “educate” hikers and horses to love bikes invading the wilderness? After two decades of trying, isn’t it obvious that there are good REASONS that we don’t like to be around large, fast-moving pieces of machinery when we are trying to relax. If you don’t like to hike, fine, but don’t FORCE your bikes on people who don’t want them around.

    YOU YOURSELF are uneducable! No how many times I point out that you are lying about bike bans excluding mountain bikers, you keep repeating the lie, because it’s convenient. And you don’t want to be called a “liar”?! That’s easy to fix: stop lying!

  91. To Cody: Man, we have got to riding together sometime. You are in the mountain biking Zen and I love it! Nice post on why you love to ride. I couldn’t agree more!
    To Mike V: The whole ‘liars’ thing is getting a little tired. Maybe go with ‘attempting to previcate’. Then you can sound like a real PhD! Mmmmm reptiles!
    To Karen: Every mountain biker I know slows down for hikers. If you feel you are in constant danger from speeding projectiles you’d better start hobbling the deer. Those crazy animals are up and running all over the forest at high speed. And they have pointy things called ‘horns’.

  92. Quiet Mike V., the adults are talking here…

    Karen has a point in that there are too many riders who ride at an uncontrolled speed. I believe it is a small minority that does but one encounter like she describes is enough to frustrate and alienate a lot of people to the positives of biking. I think a lot of riders get into the thrill of it and lose that overall responsible voice until the reality of what they can do sets in. That feeling can be a drug and it can often distract a rider from the big picture. Sometimes it takes a close call to wake them up, but most people are receptive to the message we spread about riding responsibly and are learning without the personal experience.

    I am really enjoying the discussion with karen and would love to keep it going with anybody who wishes to chime in with constructive comments.

  93. Greg Beardslee

    Some folks are debating in good faith here, I enjoy that. Some are not, but at least they are being chastised.

    The topic has strayed. The combination of mountain biking and wild lands is an emotional one. People veer off course in conversation just like anyone might when avoiding a mudhole.

    It seems that Bob Allen and John Gatchell have been most faithful to the topic. But even they have strayed a bit.

    Remember the topic is “branding wilderness lite”. I sure would like to hear more from you deep thinkers about this idea and it’s possible label. The topic has been virtually ignored, but it is important, the need to address the concept with a brand or label is obvious by people’s continued bickering. What should a new designation be called?

  94. One of the commentators on this thread might call Wilderness Lite “liars’ loops”! 🙂

  95. For Greg Beardslee:
    I admire your serious attitude, but you are wasting your words. This thread is entertaining, but nothing more than that. Unless the Forest Service management and relevant politicians are reading this thread (which I doubt) then everything that is written here will stay here as opinions and nothing more. You want to derive new nomenclature for ‘Wilderness lite’? Who cares what you call it? The FS has not addressed this as an issue, and they are not going to let anyone name a new policy for them. Call it anything you want, it is not a serious option yet. If you want to get serious about this you should post the name and address of individuals that we can write letters to and encourage a change in FS policy. The rest is just entertaining lip service.

  96. I am only here to post in this very impotent thread.

    BTW designate all you want, I won’t compromise anymore. I will ride my Mtn Bike where I please.

    Mike, Lainey, Karen. Go smoke the White Owl…

  97. Hope that didn’t do too much to negate any good will I was cultivating there Fenske. Much unappreciated if so, comments like that are pretty much as bad as Mike V.’s.

  98. Good will?


    These people want “us” off “their” land.

    I live in Montana.
    I have seen the residents of this state consistently lose access to places we have been traditionally been allowed to ride our Mountain Bikes.

    This isn’t California.

    There are few to no user conflicts here, I rarely encounter ANYONE on my rides.

    The Mikes and Karens and Laineys won’t be happy until no one is allowed to visit our public lands unless it is in a mode that is acceptable to an elite few.

  99. I hear what you are saying, I grew up in Kalispell, MT and rode all over the the northwestern part of the state. It is a different world up there than California by far but still, they have genuine concerns and have an opinion based on experiences, for the most part. And not enough of those experiences are pleasant to put them in our corner going forward.
    You may be able to ride to your hearts content now, but look to the future and think about what it would be like to lose that access. I can gurantee that California was once like what you have now. More people move in, congestion happens and conflict follows soon. If we don’t have dialogue and understanding now, we will have less in our corner later.

  100. Bob Allen,
    I agree completely with the article and everything in it. What I want to know is what is the next logical (legal) step if the NPA for Lionhead is rejected. Beyond the talk, what is the action? What legal avenues are available to MMBA if they lose their trails? Having a dialogue/and or spreading good will with individuals like Mike V. and Laney is a waste of time. They have formed an opinion about mountain bikes and no amount of banter will change that. We don’t need a dialogue with individuals that will not compromise. What we need is an coherent plan of action that can be implemented to stop trail closures. What is that plan?

  101. Ted Stroll: “One of the commentators on this thread might call Wilderness Lite ‘liars’ loops’! :-)” Have you ever noticed that it is very hard to distinguish “lawyer” from “liar”?

    I suggest a more accurate term for “wilderness lite”: “Sacrifice Zone”.

    Fenkse: “Designate [Widerness] all you want, I won’t compromise anymore. I will ride my Mtn Bike where I please.” It’s been tried. They were fined & put in jail. But thanks for demonstrating mountain bikers’ real attitude.

  102. Hey Mike, don’t waste your words on me. O.K.

    I just returned from a 10 day road trip through Fruita/Loma, Moab and the Red Canyon area of southern Utah.

    I was mountain biking in all those areas and in all those areas the user groups (equestrian, hiker/walker and mtn biker) got along just fine and shared the trails in harmony.

    You want to have a war.

    We just want to recreate.

    You go ahead and fight your little war, create your scientific studies, cite yourself as a reference. I will ride my bike.


  103. I pretty much agree with Trau about the Forest Service’s interest in this debate. It probably isn’t interested.

    I have long experience with bureaucracies. They are often blasé about issues that excite passions at the grass roots.

    I see no evidence that the Forest Service is anything but blasé about changing the rules regarding bikes in Wilderness or supporting a congressional creation of something like Wilderness Lite.

    Moreover, I wouldn’t expect the pro-bicycle arguments made here to convince anyone on this thread. And even if they do, all one has done is convince that one person, which doesn’t matter much.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call the posts a waste of words, however. The arguments you make here in favor of bicycle access will prove valuable later in honing and strengthening arguments you may make later to decision-makers. Said Nancy Pelosi, as quoted in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, “The best preparation for combat is combat.”

    In a followup post I’ll invite everyone to do a couple of specific things to influence decision-makers.

  104. Here’s my request to everyone who thinks a bike on a trail is OK.

    The thing about bureaucracies is that they have a lot of inertia, aren’t easily budged, and generally don’t want to change anything they don’t have to. Change means inconvenience and bother.

    So we mountain bikers face an uphill battle trying to get the status quo altered. Right now the status quo means few nonmotorized alternatives to Wilderness and no bikes in Wilderness.

    Let’s say you agree with Bob Allen (if I understand Bob correctly) that bikes shouldn’t be in existing Wilderness but boundary adjustments, corridors, cherry stems and alternative designations should be employed so mountain bikers don’t lose too many trails to which they have access. (This is, by the way, my problem with that approach: I see it as a recipe for slow death by a thousand cuts; a trail here, a trail there and soon you’re losing hundreds of miles of access to prized trails. Also, I agree with some of what Max Frisson has been saying; I’m dubious about turning our backs on trail motorcyclists who would be our allies in some situations in hopes that we can gain the cooperation of the purists. I don’t think we can, and I don’t think it’s fair to cut off motorcyclists from their prized trails either, at least not wholesale.)

    If that is your view, however, please write your members of Congress and ask them to introduce a bill creating a designation like Backcountry Area or Primitive Area that amounts to Wilderness plus bicycles.

    Some of us are more demanding and believe bikes should be in Wilderness. (See I’m of that view, because I believe (1) Congress did not forbid it, (2) only federal agency bureaucrats have forbidden it, in regulations that aren’t valid, (3) as a matter of sound policy, anywhere a horse or pack animal is allowed to go a bicycle should be allowed to go, which means on many Wilderness trails, and (4) potential user conflicts are manageable and the old complaints about environmental effects have been discredited.

    If you agree with that, then you can help inconvenience the agencies and get them to reconsider the no-bikes rules by writing your individual members of Congress (Representatives and Senators). The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service aren’t interested in our views as presented on this thread. But they do sit up and take notice when elected representatives start meddling. That, of course, is because those folks control their budgets.

    A letter will be more effective if it contains a specific request. A general complaint is likely to be read by a bored intern and generate a form response.

    Your letter might ask your congressmembers to ask the aforementioned agencies just to explain why they have the no-bikes rules. You can mention that the Wilderness Act of 1964 says nothing about bicycles and also that the Forest Service’s original Wilderness regulation (which is still on the books) allowed mountain biking! (That rule is 36 C.F.R. § 293.6. You can find it on the Internet.)

    Or, if you want to be more direct, you could ask your congressmembers to ask the agencies to reexamine those rules.

    Finally, is any bike-positive person on this thread from central Washington state? If so, you could play a really important role. Please get in touch with me in that case. I don’t want to put my e-mail in this thread (spam galore), but if you write to me care of Bill perhaps he will be kind enough to forward your message. (Bill, if that’s inconvenient then everyone please disregard; I’ll figure out another approach.)

    Don’t send postal mail to Washington, D.C., by the way. It takes weeks to go through security. Send your letter to their district offices, or send an e-mail (they’ll have a form on their website).

    Then we can all return to these posts as a form of practice for the real thing, which is lobbying the decision-makers.

  105. For Ted Stroll,
    Thank you for outlining a game plan for initiating a change. Truth be told I believe bikes should be allowed in Wilderness areas. It seems as if most people (mountain bikers included) do not feel this way. Your arguments are coherent and logical; I will write a letter this week to both Tester and Max. If the the Wilderness Act allows mountain bikes and the FS bans them from Wilderness areas, then the FS is in direct violation of congressional law. I would imagine that any FS activity that directly circumvents congressional authority would be of keen interest to our senators.

  106. You’re welcome, Trau. I didn’t see your reply earlier because the followup notification seems to have quit on me. Thanks for taking the time to write your senators. I’ll be curious to hear what they say in reply.

    To make myself clear, the Wilderness Act of 1964 doesn’t specifically authorize mountain biking. It’s silent on the subject. Instead, it bans “mechanical transport,” which the agencies later misread as banning mountain biking.

    The kind of “mechanical transport” Congress meant to prohibit, it turns out, was the kind that used some other power source to move human beings or cargo along. It took me hundreds of hours of search into dusty old documents and microfiches to discover this long-forgotten fact. But the Forest Service must have known about it in 1966, because its original legislation prohibited only “mechanical transport” that was powered by a “nonliving power source,” just as Congress intended. The regulation is 36 CFR § 293.6(a). It is still on the books! It is, however, not enforced for the benefit of mountain biking.

    Until 1984, bicycling was allowed either totally or to some degree in National Forest Wilderness areas under the foregoing regulation and various other regulations that contradicted one another. Starting in 1984, alas, the Forest Service conclusively adopted a no-bikes plan for Wilderness that it had first put forth in a 1977 regulation, forgetting its original correct understanding of the 1964 Wilderness Act and misconstruing the scope of the Act’s “mechanical transport” ban to include human-powered travel. The other agencies followed along.

    Even regarding “mechanical transport” the agencies have been inconsistent in what they’ve excluded. You can power your own vertical transport in Wilderness with all the rock-climbing cams and pulleys you want. But you can’t power yourself horizontally on wheels on a bicycle.

    This is all laid out in my 2004 law review article on the subject, which you can refer your senators to. It’s available on the Internet at (Its presence on the IMBA website should not be interpreted as if IMBA necessarily endorses everything I wrote. It’s there for research purposes.)

    It’s too bad that mountain bikers don’t have the same number of lawyers employed by “Earthjustice,” i.e., more than 50 attorneys in eight offices (!), to work on this issue. If we did, I bet the Wilderness ban would have fallen by the wayside earlier this decade. Ironically, the prime beneficiaries of such a ruling would be none other than the Wilderness purists! For the tiny price of seeing an occasional mountain bike on a small subset of Wilderness trails only during the dry parts of summer, they’d likely have gained many more acres of Wilderness designation. It would be the opposite of a Pyrrhic victory—a fabulous and profitable defeat that any pragmatic person would greet with a sigh of relief. Thus do ideology and a kind of quasireligious fervor overpower the kind of pragmatism that ultimately would make both them and us happier. Amazing.