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By the time sunrise had lit up the 10,000-foot Lima Peaks on Saturday morning, August 22, over 120 cyclists had already arrived in Lima, Montana, population 250, and set up camp at the Mountain View Motel and RV Park. A steady stream of rigs with bicycles flowed off Interstate 15 and by 9 a.m. sleepy little Lima was hopping. Bicyclists from around the region drove to the southwest corner of Montana for the 2nd Annual Montana Backcountry Bicycle Festival, an event sponsored by the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance. Billed as a fun mountain bike gathering that combined world-class backcountry singletrack and down home hospitality, the Festival’s goal was to demonstrate that Montana’s small towns can benefit from mountain bike tourism attracted by great singletrack riding opportunities--the holy grail for backcountry bicyclists.

Mountain Bicyclists Speak Out on Tester’s Wilderness Bill

By the time sunrise had lit up the 10,000-foot Lima Peaks on Saturday morning, August 22, over 120 cyclists had already arrived in Lima, Montana, population 250, and set up camp at the Mountain View Motel and RV Park. A steady stream of rigs with bicycles flowed off Interstate 15 and by 9 a.m. sleepy little Lima was hopping.

Bicyclists from around the region drove to the southwest corner of Montana for the 2nd Annual Montana Backcountry Bicycle Festival, an event sponsored by the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance (MMBA). Billed as a fun mountain bike gathering that combined world-class backcountry singletrack and down home hospitality, the Festival’s goal was to demonstrate that Montana’s small towns can benefit from mountain bike tourism attracted by great singletrack riding opportunities–the holy grail for backcountry bicyclists.

This year’s Lima Festival was held on borrowed time, however. The clock is ticking on bicycle access to the trails that have drawn riders to southern Beaverhead County for years. These trails are slated for closure to bicycles in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge (B-D) Forest Plan and consequently in Senator Jon Tester’s Forest Job’s and Recreation Act (FJRA). The B-D Forest Plan will close the Lima Peaks/Garfield Mountain, the Italian Peak area and local sections of Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) later this year under the Forest Service philosophy that bans bicycles from recommended Wilderness areas. The FJRA in its current form will seal the deal.

The last time a Montana landscape received Wilderness protection was 1983 when the fledgling mountain bicycling industry was getting rolling in earnest and cyclists were taking fat-tired bikes into the hills in increasing numbers. In the 26 years since Congress designated the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, mountain bicyclists have continued exploring Montana’s vast backcountry trial systems. The rides, initially shared by word of mouth, were guarded with reverence to protect what seemed like our own private stash. On many of these trails you can still ride all day and never see another user. During this time period mountain bike users grew into 30 million users nationally, the second largest behind hikers. Engrained into the mountain bicycling culture is an inquisitive desire to explore new areas–whether this is across the valley or the country. The adventurous pursuit of quality singletrack has launched countless road trips and is a vital concept to grasp when we are discussing forest jobs and recreational opportunities.

During this Wilderness drought Montana’s mountain bikers kept riding somewhat oblivious to the pain other cycling communities were suffering around the U.S.–a pain brought by the fact that cyclists are conservation-minded and want pristine roadless areas permanently protected from new roads, mining and logging but the Wilderness or nothing choice puts cyclists in the undesirable position of either supporting bicycle-banning Wilderness protection for trails we’ve ridden and loved for decades or be opposed to new Wilderness. Sadly permanent resource protection options that allows continued bicycle access is often missing in this dialog.

With the July introduction of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, Senator Tester has embarked into new, uncharted territory. The bicycling community applauds the adjustments already given in the FJRA that offers permanent Congressional protection including new Wilderness and continued bicycle access in the form of a National Protection Area in the Lost Creek area in the Flint Creek Range, a boundary adjustment for trail #313 on the Sapphire Divide and a mechanized corridor for a 1.9-mile section of trail #315 in the Spanish Peaks/Cowboy Heaven–all examples of simple and small adjustments or a companion designations that extend protection including the majority of the Wilderness acreage while still allowing bicycling on specific, important routes.

Still more needs to be done. In the enormous landscape and hundreds of miles of trails affected by the FJRA, bicyclists are only asking for roughly 70 miles of trails to remain open to bicycles while supporting a majority of the Wilderness acreage. The trails we are asking to keep open are already designated non-motorized in the respective forest plans and would require hikers and equestrians to continue to share the trails where bicyclists currently ride–none of which are in existing Wilderness.

Additional adjustments we support include:

  • 5.2 mile cherry stem needed for Tahepia Lake in the East Pioneers
  • 1.3 mile boundary adjustment or corridor on Monture Creek #27 to Falls Creek #16
  • 11.2 mile corridor for Sawmill #10401 to Little Sheep #1040, Lima Peaks
  • 2-4 mile corridors on Lost Cabin #150 and Louise Lake #7168, Tobacco Roots
  • 14 mile corridor trail #91, Italian Peaks Corridors/boundary adjustments for CDNST in West Big Hole and Centennials.


Shouldn’t every community have the opportunity to benefit socially and economically from the existing local trails that are currently enjoyed by bicyclists? The infrastructure is already in place. No roads need to be built. No extraction required. No dependence on the stagnate building industry’s recovery to have small town Montana benefit from the clean and quiet mountain bike eco-tourism. Bicyclists are not asking for access to all trails but do want to see the traditional singletrack gems protected and promoted so cyclists can be riding these trails again in spring 2010 with the communities poised to profit from their fat-tired visitors.

There are many proven business examples from around the world where singletrack-based tourism bolsters and sustains small town economies. It is folly to suggest that continued bicycle access is an overnight silver bullet cure for all of Montana’s social and economic ailments but if bicycles are banned from some of Montana’s finest trail resources at this juncture, we will not turn back the clocks in the future.

Why not give the collective bicycling community an opportunity to prove what responsible backcountry bicycling can do for Montana and create a few more pedal-powered “forest jobs” across the B-D and Blackfoot-Clearwater landscape in the FJRA. Heck, if the cycling community cannot come up with proactive solutions to make the trails we ask for more sustainable while improving user experiences and boosting the local economies through education, conservation and good will, boot us off in the next round of forest travel planning. Asking for this chance on a handful of trails does not seem like an unreasonable request of our elected officials and land managers.

This summer the mountain bicyclists came to Lima for the sublime trails but also found a small-town hospitality that would bring them back for another visit, and in the process, gave this dwindling railroad town one of the best economic weekends it has had in decades. Lima will not reap any gain from local stewardship logging, land reclamation or milling of timber under the FJRA. Closing the Middle Fork of Little Sheep Creek Trail #1040 and the CDNST to bicycles will cut Lima off from a singletrack gold mine that lies just 8 miles from town and Interstate-15. Open or closed, tens of thousands of tourists traveling through Montana with bicycles on their cars will drive past our trails resources all summer long looking for the next great ride. The question now becomes, in the name of Forest Jobs and Recreation, do we act to empower our small towns to benefit from this green revenue stream or do we cut out one more piece of their economic pie in the name of permanent land protection that bans quiet, muscle-powered bicycles?

Bob Allen is a co-founder of the Montana Mountain Biking Association.

Footnote: For a chronology of four years of NewWest.Net’s extensive coverage of this issue, click here.

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  1. I mountain bike, and I don’t care at all about Bob’s suggestions. He’ll say that’s because I’m not a “real biker.” I wonder if that’s like being a “real American.”


  2. So, because mountain bikers have money to spend (as tourists) and time to give (to collaborate on building trails), they should be given some of Montana’s wilderness lands? Sounds like the very same arguments that 4WD and OHV users make.

  3. Mr. Allen claims to support wilderness, but the actions of MMBA say otherwise. From my observation and news articles, Mr. Allen and the other members of this tiny group based out of Bozeman are working hand in hand with pro-motorized groups including Kerry White (Citizens for Motorized Use) and Corey Biggers (The Blue Ribbon Coalition).

    Their message is economic benefits to small communities along the continental divide and “socially responsible” wilderness (whatever that is). But their mission is to deny wilderness protection to deserving landscapes, despite the fact that the vast majority of landscapes will remain available for mountain biking even if Senator Tester’s Forest Jobs bill does not change.

    You have two choices Mr. Allen. You can join the majority of Montanans that believe in working together on a proposal that has something for everyone or you can be left behind with your failed attempt to take it all. Let’s hope you see the better path soon.

  4. Mr. Allen’s disingenuous position is that the bike festival was held in Lima Peaks and so the wilderness designation should either be put on the back burner or we make a special exception for bikes. Of the approximate 27.4 million acres of public land in Montana, U.S. National Forests comprise about 18 percent or 16.9 million acres. Montana’s 15 Wilderness Areas total about 3.4 million acres or 3.7 percent of the entire state. Is Mr. Allen seriously suggesting that mountain bikers have virtually nowhere else to hold their rally? Is he serious that mountain bikers are a significant source of recreation earnings in this state given that a single elk hunt in wilderness is worth somewhere on the order of three to four thousand dollars for a six day hunt? Please, put this issue to rest and accept the fact that true designated wilderness is incompatible with mountain biking and especially the sorts of hoards such rallies attract. Please.

  5. I wonder if the 3 pseudo-comments above mine come from people who actually read the bit written by Bob Allen. I don’t see any of the 3 comments relating to his piece. They are instead attacking straw-men.

    New West has a habit of writing lots of essays that appeal to the Yuppie Trustafarians in Montana — the ones who move here with their “nest egg” from Minneapolis or Indianapolis, and declare that we need more “wilderness” that nobody is allowed to use. Instead of presenting an aesthetic ideal –pristine, untouched “wilderness” that is forever protected– they should be focusing on what destroys wild lands. In America, what is destroying wild lands?


    Like Tom Maclay’s vision of the “Bitterroot Resort”

    Like the “retirement ranch” Log McMansion Monstrosity developments popping up in the Flints

    Like the out-of-state mining interests who want to destroy the Rock Creek watershed

    Like the privatization interests who want to turn Yellowstone into a Disney theme park

    THESE are the threats to wild lands and a wilderness aesthetic.

    Not mountain bike riders.

    And of course, nobody in the 3 comments above me can point to real damage caused by a MTB traveling on any of the to-be-closed trails. That’s why they build and destroy rhetorical straw men… they have no facts or logic on their side.

    If you want to keep the west naturally beautiful, you should be fighting development.

    Not mountain bikes.

  6. I’m a hiker, mountain biker, hunter, and occasional equestrian from Lewistown, MT. I’m a member of the MMBA but the opinions expressed below are my own.

    Joe – I’ve known Bob for many years, but I wouldn’t be so bold as to speak for him, or claim to know what he would say. I do know that your comment left me with more questions than answers. You claim to mountain bike, yet don’t care that you’re being shut off of the trails?

    Binky – We’re not asking to be ‘given’ anything nor are we trying to get into existing designated wilderness. We’re asking that trails with historical use not be TAKEN away. We’re asking for simple, small adjustments in boundaries, narrow corridors, cherry stems, and/or a companion designation (an existing classification of land management that has all the same protections as wilderness and cannot be removed without an act of congress but it differs in that it allows bicycles).

    Vincent – The demonizing of the MMBA and attempts to connect us with motorized user groups are vain and transparent. Makes me wonder if this mandate came down from the higher ups in the Wilderness Association or some other Wilderness-at-all-costs group.

    I don’t know Kerry White, but I have mountain biked with Corey Biggers. Nice guy and one of the hardest core solo backcountry mountain bikers that I’ve ever met. What he does when he’s not mountain biking is none of my business. I’m also a hiker, but he doesn’t hold that against me.

    Could you please point out exactly where in the MMBA’s proposal they are trying to “take it all” (your words)? I must have missed that part.

  7. Nice article Bob.

    Mr. Allen claims to support wilderness, but the actions of MMBA say otherwise. From my observation and news articles, Mr. Allen and the other members of this tiny group based out of Bozeman are working hand in hand with pro-motorized groups including Kerry White (Citizens for Motorized Use) and Corey Biggers (The Blue Ribbon Coalition).
    ince, you wrote, “Mr. Allen claims to support wilderness, but the actions of MMBA say otherwise. From my observation and news articles, Mr. Allen and the other members of this tiny group based out of Bozeman are working hand in hand with pro-motorized groups including Kerry White (Citizens for Motorized Use) and Corey Biggers (The Blue Ribbon Coalition). ”

    While Cory may be a member of the Blue Ribbon Coalition (I don’t know or care, one way or the other), the MMBA has no ties to the BRC.

    I will leave it to Bob to define his views on motorized recreation. I own no motorized reactional vehicles but I realized a long time ago that a large number of Montana residents do, they have a right to recreate in their chosen way and they also desire access to public lands.

    “You have two choices Mr. Allen. You can join the majority of Montanans that believe in working together on a proposal that has something for everyone or you can be left behind with your failed attempt to take it all. Let’s hope you see the better path soon.”

    Uh huh?

    Bob wrote in his article,

    “Still more needs to be done. In the enormous landscape and hundreds of miles of trails affected by the FJRA, bicyclists are only asking for roughly 70 miles of trails to remain open to bicycles while supporting a majority of the Wilderness acreage. The trails we are asking to keep open are already designated non-motorized in the respective forest plans and would require hikers and equestrians to continue to share the trails where bicyclists currently ride–none of which are in existing Wilderness.”

    It reads to me that Bob is in full support of what you feel is correct.

    Where do you stand?

  8. Joe bikes a lot. What about Mr. Allen’s suggestion do you not like. Is it his opinion that bikers are like to search for and ride singletrack? Is it access to one lake in the proposed East Pioneer wilderness, or access to the CDNST? The CDT alliance recognized MTB as appropriate use of the trail outside wilderness areas.

    Binky. How is sharing backcountry trails with MTBs giving wilderness to cyclists? The point is these trails are currently not in “designated wilderness,” and despite MTB use they remain in pristine condition.

    Vincent and jdj, while the majority on Montanans support wilderness, that does not equate with opposition to mountain biking. Most people assume that MTB are allowed in wilderness since they are a healthy nonmotorized low impact use. Mr. Allen has explicitly laid how the small amount of trail access he is advocating; roughly 70 miles of unimproved existing singletrack that would still be nonmotorized and still be protected from significant impact out of several hundred thousand acres of new proposed wilderness. This is the epitome of working together on a proposal that has something for everybody.

  9. Lindsay Dahl Crocker

    Nine knee surgeries later, as a former college athlete, the only sport left for my poor old knee is cycling. The great thing about biking is all you need is an old bike, and if you choose, a helmet. You don’t need a lot of money to mountain bike. I tried my share of road biking, unfortunately I gave that up in Missoula when I was passed by people in town, yelling “faggot” out the window and throwing their empty beer cans at me.

    My mountain bike is my life. My husband and I travel nowhere without our mountain bikes attached to the car and rarely do we ever travel to do anything BUT bike. We enjoy exploring Montana from one bike ride to another. As well as stopping in all the small towns along the way.

    Just like Lima, the small town of Rapelje, MT honors the chance to host a weekend of mountain biking. Rapelje would be a farming ghost town, but for 10 years now, the local co-op cafe/community center raises enough money in one weekend to keep the cafe/community center open for a year. This June, the tiny community of Rapelje hosted over 300 mountain bikers and their families for a 24 hour mountain bike race. Not only did they host it, but they were there for every participant and their families with a smile on their face and completely honored we were all there.

    Well done Bob. When you take existing trail away from users who are currently riding those trails responsibly, it could be devistating to more than just a mountain biker. When all parties meet somewhere in the middle, it could be just what it takes to keep that family ran gas station open, or the Rapelje Community Center, where local kids can check out books or their grandparents can play Bridge.

    Please think beyond yourselves. Think to the future. I hope next year, I can make the trip to Lima.

  10. First, in the name of disclosure, I am a member of the Montana mountain bike alliance and a friend of Bob’s. I grew up in Montana and have been mountain biking for over 20 years. Most of that in Montana’s wildest places. I have had ONE bad experience with another trail user in that twenty years and it wasn’t because I spooked or startled her. She didn’t wan’t to see bicycles on “her”trail (crest of the Big Snowys). 8 different studies recently proved that we do no more trail damage or create more
    erosion than any other user group. We are the second largest user group in the nation. We WANT to preserve these wild places like the conservation groups. We ARE enviromentalists. We simply ask to be included in the conversation. Wilderness advocates seem to exlude us, thereby losing out on the support of a lot of like-minded recreationists. It seems rather obvious by the vitreol demonstrated in some of the comments above that we are their enemy(?!!) There has not been any new wilderness designations in Montana in over twenty years, and I empathize with their frustration, but some of that is definetly due to their methods.
    Bob (Allen) has tried to engage in a productive way with all user groups. MMBA supports new wilderness and asks for very little in return. Some bikers think we ask too little. The idea that “what-I-am-doing-in-the-mountains-is-more-righteous-than-what-you-are-doing” doesn’t fly in a democracy. Money and lawyers should not dictate the wilds of the world. Can’t we be a little more civilized?
    And to Mr. Fenske-this is not a small number of people in Bozeman. There are thousands of us across the state who would support current proposals if there was even the smallest increment of compromise.
    Let’s ALL save Montana from becoming the next Colorado (no offense to you folks)

    Tim Hawke

  11. Joe, Binky, Vinny and jdj. My aren’t you a sniveling, negative, boot step lot.

    YES, Montana needs and deserves new Wilderness… bring it on! However, I feel Mr. Allen has presented a very fair and compelling perspective for accommodating a quiet, low impact, muscle-powered user group. He on behalf of his not so “tiny” group, Montana Mountain Bike Alliance, is respectfully asking that a few small boundary adjustments and cherry stem trails be considered. 70 measly miles.

    As someone who makes a living in our state’s travel & tourism industry, I think there’s plenty of room in Montana for MORE Wilderness AND world-class, destination mountain biking. Sorry if my karma ran over your dogma…

  12. Collaboration with stakeholders and neighbors yields solutions all can be happy with in the end. It’s not the fastest solution, but it’s the optimal process. There is a place for everything, but sometimes creative thinking is what it takes to get there.

    To clarify, the CDT alliance DOES NOT recognize mtn biking as appropriate use outside wilderness areas as a broad stroke application.

  13. From my understanding, the only thing that you can really do on this “wilderness” land is walk on it. No offense, but that is pretty lame. It will now basically shut off these areas from anyone. What we could ride into in a day will now take twice as long and will put those who dare to enter this wilderness recreation land at greater risk. Unless you ride a horse in, right? Anyone who hikes or bikes knows how fun it is to dodge horse bombs. I don’t really understand why they would not allow bikes but they allow horses. Can someone explain the rationale here to me? Is it just that the lawmakers are being overly selective of what we can and can’t do based on their own personal interests? The most sad part about this whole deal to me is that so many people are being duped into believing that this is such a good thing for Montana. The only people that I have met that really know anything about the act think that it is going to create jobs for montana because of the false name it has been given. And the people who know what its really all about and still support it are the people who have never even stepped foot or tire on any of this land and never intend to. BOOOO!

  14. Hey Tim, that was a quote from someone else. I am also a MMBA member and we have ridden trail together on several occasions. Just a clarification.

    Good post on your part and Lindseys as well.

  15. Sorry Fenske, It was unclear to me on my brief lunch break that your letter was quoting a previous post. Thanks for straightening me out there. We shall ride again! Cheers-

  16. I’m an avid mtn. biker, among other things. And I’ve spent time in the Lima Peaks area. It is a special place – a place where I’m more than happy to give up my ability to ride a bike to instead explore it on foot. This is Montana, people – there are more places to ride a mountain bike than you can ride in a lifetime. Quit whining, and quit putting your own pet interest above bigger picture issues.

  17. I’m a serious hiker who has hiked the Lima Peaks area frequently, and I have no problem sharing the trails with mountain bike riders. Smithhammer’s comment makes no sense to me. It sounds like Smithhammer is trying to put his own pet interest above the bigger picture issue of sharing trails with people who don’t damage the trails. Maybe Smithhammer isn’t an avid hiker after all.

  18. I know this is the age old question, but it is still simple in my opinion. What is it about mountain bikes that is different that horses and hikers? I always get hung up on this one everytime I hear this discussion.

    Personally I can see the difference between motorized vehicles and horses and hikers, but mountain bikes? They don’t make noise and they don’t cause anymore trail erosion than horses (if I am wrong about this please tell me), plus bikes don’t crap invasive plant seeds and bring flies to trails. My experience on trails that horses use has shown me that horses have the capacity to cause more erosion and disturbance at times.

    SO what is my point, if it is really all about protecting wilderness. Why not have another advocate (bikers) for wilderness allowed to access these places and further the efforts to preserve and take care of them. Especially since the effects of mountain biking on wilderness resources are NO different than hikers and horses.

    Why the harsh backlash…

  19. It is a national travesty and embarrassment that the ability to ride a bicycle on the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is not already permanently protected in its entirety by Congressional decree! It is disappointing and short sighted of those who claim to support the CDNST in concept to distance themselves from the enormous conservation group found in the bicyclists. Bogus!

  20. Mountain bikes push traditional foot and horse use off the trails. We need areas that are free of mountain bikes barreling down the trails. You ever see a horse react to a fast moving bike? It is a dangerous situation. The two uses aren’t compatible.

    There are plenty of places to ride and we need mountain bike trails, but please stop trying to lay claim to the most important traditional hiking and horse trails.

  21. Comments that are nothing more than lies should be disregarded. Comments that exaggerate facts until they are nothing but scared person fantasies, they should be disregarded as well. MT Backcountry’s comment above is a sad bit of exaggeration. As a backcountry MTB rider of over 10 years’ time, all around Montana, I can say that I’ve never had any bad experiences meeting other trail users. I’ve never “barreled down on” anyone. The lies spread by people like “MT Backcountry” above are typical of those who think that only THEIR OWN PERSONAL view of “wilderness” counts. Such extremely selfish people should go back to whatever city they moved here from, and resume telling others how to live back where they came from.

  22. I have had a few scary situations on trails (while hiking) where I walked up to a horse and the person riding it started yelling and telling me to talk to the horse so it doesn’t freak out. I don’t want to talk to your horse, and I don’t want to have to fear being trampled by your oversived, small brained trail fertilizer. If they are so easily spooked, maybe they are not ready for trail rides!

  23. “MT Backcountry” – you are only perpetuating a bad image for horses. I think the mountain bike community has been very RESPECTFUL of others (I cannot say that about other motorized groups/users). Remember the West was founded on ideas surrounding “Freedom”, “Independence” and “Ingenuity”. How do you think our forefathers felt when they were pushed from roadways by modern vehicles – talk about incompatible uses! As far as “laying claim to traditional trails”, give me a break – if we truly want to respect traditional use, we should give it all back to the Native Americans! I have been an avid trail user (foot, bike, horse, skis) all over Montana for 16+ years and have NEVER had a bad experience. As “Sean O’Neil” states above, the REAL concern is DEVELOPMENT – we will all end up losing what is important if we continue arguing. We need to work TOGETHER to preserve what is left. Get off your high horse (pun intended) and let’s respect one-another. Stop spreading the FEAR!

  24. Until folks like MT Backcountry are ready to come to the table with of list of their favorite trails that will then become bicycle only routes, I suggest we work at understanding the big picture and SHARING! So, so simple.

  25. MT Backcountry: I have never seen a horse yeild right of way to any hiker or bike rider. How can you suggest that bike riders are the incompatible trail users?

  26. MT Backcountry – Between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks and ALL of the Wilderness areas, there are millions and millions of acres that offer bicycle free trails experiences across Montana – how much more private access to public land do you ‘NEED’?

  27. As I said in a previous response, I have biked virtually every legal trail from the Pryors to the Bitteroot. I have never had a bad horse encounter. A few weeks ago a friend of mine and I helped out some nice older ladies on horses in the Tobacco roots. They had never been on those trails and were going down an ATV trail. We told them about a trail that is open to horse and foot traffic only ( and yes, that includes bikes) that would end them at the same place. We stopped at a crucial intersection and waited to point them in the right way. We saw them at the trailhead later and they were very grateful.
    I have had many great encounters with equestrians. Do I like the crap on the trail? Absolutely not! But, I know that they are the ones packing chainsaws to the high country in July to clear trails. As a native Montanan I see horses as part of our culture and our(brief) history here.
    I really don’t believe for a minute that MT Backcountry’s comments accurately represent the views of most equestrians.
    My other concern with his response is his comment that we are “laying claim” to trails. We are giving up entire mountain ranges worth of trails (East Pioneers) and asking, politely, for one 5 mile corridor(Tahepia Lake trail) to remain open to bikes. That hardly “laying claim”. That is what YOU are doing.
    I believe that all muscle-powered user groups are compatible. Sure, theres idiots in all groups. There are hikers that short-cut switchbacks. There are horse folks that ride wet trails. There are moto-boys that ride off trail. And YES, there are bikers that don’t keep their speed in check and startle people. But, that is a small percent of all of those groups. The answer to that is for everyone to self-police and talk to their fellow users, NOT to seperate us onto different specific use trails. That deprives everyone of the ability (right) to explore!
    It’s obvious to me from some of the responses to mountain biking related articles here on New West, that some people just plain don’t like bikes and don’t want to have to see them. That argument will get you nowhere. With anyone. Beyond that, there aren’t too many valid arguments against bicycles in the backcountry. But there is a lot of money and lawyers. Seems kind of facist to me. What happened to the Montana I grew up in where people knew how to get along and looked out for each other? Sad…

  28. I have to agree with Tim regarding horses. I have only had positive experiences on the trail and off. Several on my cycling friends have worked with the horseman for trail clearing, one friend married a horsewoman, and others have used equestrian support for multiday rides.

    We all work best working as a team and recognizing our common interests.

  29. Dear Mr. Campmore,

    I’m not opposed to sharing trails at all – I do it both as a hiker and a biker. I think you completely miss my point – in the case of Lima Peaks, I’m advocating in support on designating greater protection, in the form of “Wilderness” with a capital “W” even if that comes at the expense of limiting bike access, because I think that the area is deserving of such a designation, and the protection that comes with it. I also don’t need to ride my bike everywhere.

  30. Mr. Smithhammer – your comment begs the question – what specifically do you want to protect in the Lima Peaks with a Wilderness designation? Do you want to permanently prevent future mining, logging, road building and motorized use? The proposed National Protection Area in the Lost Creek area in Senator’s Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act offers exactly these protections in a permanent Congressional companion designation that was negotiated and sanctioned by the Montana Wilderness Association that still allows bicycles. Do you have a problem with this solution for the Flint Creek Range? Why not Lima Peaks?

    So what is your issue? It certainly can’t be the physical impact caused by bicycles because it is undisputable that horses cause more damage both on and off the trails. Or did I miss your desire to ban horses from the Lima Peaks as well?

    Maybe your beef is a philosophical one where Wilderness should not have a mechanized devise such as a bicycle in the hallowed hills. The Wilderness movement better prepare to take this concept to its logical and legally expensive end. If bicycle are to be banned from Wilderness because they are mechanized, backcountry skiers should be quaking in their boots because ski bindings are mechanized and the next target for banishment; fisherman – your reels fall into this category. Zippers, pumps on stoves – where do you draw the line on mechanized. Horseshoes? We better make the signs at the Wilderness trailheads to read: Moccasins and loincloths only.

    So does it just come down to your own PERSONAL wilderness ethic that does not want to see bicycles in the Lima Peaks or other areas that the Forest Service has recommended for Wilderness? You state that you don’t need to ride your bike everywhere. It seems that Bob Allen’s article agrees with you. It reads that MMBA is not advocating for all trails and are in fact are supporting giving up trails for hundreds of thousands acres of new Wilderness in Senator Tester’s bill.

    I’m really curious, Mr. Smithhammer, with you being a mountain biker, what you find unacceptable in permanently protecting the bicycle riding opportunity of Middle Fork of Little Sheep to Sawmill Creeks? A non-motorized bicycle corridor through the proposed Wilderness would prevent any future roads, mining, logging and motorized use. Personally my bicycle fits perfectly into my wilderness ethic: quiet, non-motorized and low impact – why doesn’t your bicycle fit into yours?

    Again, it seems the solution is what we all should have learned in kindergarten: SHARING and RESPECT.

    Ride On!

  31. Good God, PP – calm down and try not to get your chamois in a bunch. As I’ve already abundantly made clear – I don’t support a Wilderness designation for the Lima Peaks area because I have something against bikes. And spare me all your tired yadda yadda about the impact of bicycles vs. horses, etc. I was involved in this debate when you were likely still pondering the removal of your training wheels. I’ve been a bike fiend my whole life. But what you’re bike-centric myopia can’t seem to get past is that this isn’t about bikes.

  32. The only person whose comments seem to be coming from an over-anxious, selfish, boxers-bunched perspective is Smithhammer.

    Pedal Powered’s comment above is very wise, and it exposes the immature selfishness and LYING of Smithhammer’s pretense at being a backcountry MTB rider. In fact, I will wager Smithhammer doesn’t even own a tricycle, let alone a bicycle, let alone a mountain bike.

    I’d challenge Smithhammer to identify himself and show up at a trailhead with his bike, to ride with a few people.

    I’m sure Smithhammer will say I’m over-reacting with my “panties in a bunch.” People like Smithhammer are all over internet comment forums, playing at the shadow-boxer, feigning victimhood and then rope-a-dope-ing commenters with snarky “don’t get your panties in a bunch” retorts when people respond with calm logic. The aim, of course, is to try to paint anyone who disagrees with Smithhammer as “melting down” or “unhinged.”

    When the truth is far different, however, and is this: Smithhammer is offering a view which says that Smithhammer himself is the only valid arbiter of what is permissible recreation.

    Looks to me like Smithhammer thinks he’s a prissy librarian yelling SHHHHH! to the people who aren’t even making noise.

  33. You’re truly funny, Sean. I’m “LYING?” What exactly am I lying about? You certainly seem very certain of this, without knowing a thing about me. Shall I wax poetic about the original Bontrager handbuilt steel frame I rode through the late 80’s to prove myself to you? Shall I tell you how many bikes I currently own to gain credibility in your eyes? Why in the world would I “pose” to be an MTB rider? Because I’m simply bored and have nothing better to do than hang out on New West? Please. How exactly am I making the point that I am the “only valid arbiter of what is permissible recreation?” By saying that I support a Wilderness designation supported by many, many other people? Yeah, how despotic of me. Your worked-up response is exactly the sort of amped-up rhetoric I’m talking about.

    Regardless, all I’m trying to say here is that even as someone who is an avid cyclist, I don’t feel that that means EVERY area needs to be open to cycling (or horseback riding for that matter). And I’m bothering to make that point because all you ever hear on forums like this is are the two, simplistic extremes of the spectrum -people who are pro-bike clamoring for access and people who are anti-bike sniveling about closing it all off. I’m trying to offer a different perspective, as someone who has been involved in fighting FOR bike access in backcountry in other areas. Seems like a perfectly rational point to be making here. If you don’t agree with it – that’s fine, but try to at least allow room for perspectives other than your own without resorting to calling me a liar when you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  34. You wouldn’t know what I know, Smithhhammer. You don’t know me. But I’m offering you the chance to get to know people who ride backcountry regularly. I’m offering you the chance to get to know your supposed “enemies” whom you have deigned evil for their simple desire to travel in the backcountry.

    Choose a trailhead and a Sunday, and I will be there if it’s a decent backcountry ride. I may bring friends. I expect you won’t show, because I expect you are here just to cause trouble. I seriously doubt you want to know anything about the people you have deemed your “enemies.” I feel fairly sure you are arrogant, self-centered, and believe yourself superior to me and those other “enemies” you want to prevent from enjoying themselves in a low- to no-impact manner. I’d wonder why you are so adamant about preventing MTB access, given your frequent repetition that you’re an “avid MTB rider.”

    I’m challenging you to show me that you’re such an avid rider. I wonder if you can walk the talk.

  35. “But I’m offering you the chance to get to know people who ride backcountry regularly. I’m offering you the chance to get to know your supposed “enemies” whom you have deigned evil for their simple desire to travel in the backcountry.”

    Huh? Sean, most of my friends are backcountry riders, and a number of them trail builders. I know many, many people who “ride backcountry regularly.” Many of them seriously hardcore about it. “My enemies?” Wtf are you talking about? I don’t have any “enemies” in this discussion.

    You’re putting a lot of words in my mouth, and making a lot of ridiculous assumptions. And you throw the “immaturity” label at me? This is sadly what these discussions always devolve into. I have nothing to prove to you about how “hardcore” of a cyclist I am, Sean. By trying to twist the conversation into being about that, you’re completely missing the point here. And no, I have no desire to go out of my way to ride with you. Frankly, you seem like the kind of person I’d go out of my way to NOT ride with.

  36. Smithhammer – I assure you my chamois is bunch free.

    You had already stated that you support Wilderness in the Lima Peaks but did not address any of the questions probing your stand on solutions that provide equal Wilderness protection and still allow bicycles.

    With all the passion surrounding a Wilderness designation, we all must be mindful that Wilderness IS NOT A RELIGION – it is a land protection tool in a toolbox full of other appropriate tools.

    What are your thoughts on the Lost Creek National Protection Area (blessed as holy by MWA) that prevents mining, logging, new roads and motorized use while still allowing bicycle use? An NPA companion designation is as permanent as a big ‘W’ but way more user friendly.

    Senator Tester’s bill is not our parent’s Wilderness Bill. Times have changed and the bicycling community has become a pivot point in the land protection debate. The Senator has a chance to do something new by embracing a new, evolved Wilderness ethic.

    In the context of having a permanent non-motorized bicycle corridor from Little Sheep to Sawmill that still protects the Lima Peak’s RWA as Wilderness please explain what you are objecting to without just stating you support Wilderness there.

    Such corridors have been granted in Wilderness from the beginning, most often for motorized roads, so a bicycle corridor that supports 99% of the Wilderness acreage is not precedent setting at all. How is this solution threatening to your experience in the Lima Peaks?

    It seems the cycling community is supporting (albeit apprehensively) closing trails for new Wilderness and don’t want access to ALL trails. It seems that Lima sure could use a 11.2 mile corridor to keep some options open for the community. As stated before, with the National Parks and Wilderness there are millions of acres of bicycle free options around Montana. A few trail asks in this Wilderness bill isn’t over reaching.

    Please articulate your opposition.

  37. PP –

    As I’ve consistently said since my first post in this conversation, this is not, in any way, about me being “opposed” to mtn. biking. Instead, I said that I would support a Wilderness designation for the Lima Peaks area, even if that meant giving up my ability to ride a bike there. That is not the same thing. This isn’t about me being opposed to bikes at all, it’s about what I’m personally willing to give up in one particular, limited area (knowing that I still have many, many other areas in which to bike).

    Hence, if you can understand my position above, it isn’t a contradiction for me to say that I’m also not opposed to an option that would continue to allow biking, if such an option is realistic and truly feasible, and wouldn’t be the cause of further compromise with the amount of protection that the area would receive. I don’t find such an option “threatening” to my experience at all – I recreate in many areas that have that sort of mixed use recreation, and I pursue many different forms of that recreation myself.

    As I’ve said from the beginning (before all sorts of assumptions and twisted logic were applied to my supposed “agenda”), my POV is in support of a Wilderness designation, not an “anti-bike” designation as such. Is that clear enough?

  38. While most of the negative comments here suggest that a bicyclist is a criminal when wanting to use human power in our wilderness areas, may I take a moment and introduce some educational information.

    I’m in Colorado battling the same battle as Mr. Allen. When we first started riding our klunkers in our Wilderness’s in the late 70’s, we were greeted with large smiles, “oh my goodness’s” and “wow, that is so cool” comments. We would exchange the usual pleasantries, talking mostly of the days travel and how we were going to go in one day what was going to take the pedestrian or equestrian 3 days to accomplish. Always the kind of bonding and politeness you’d find talking with a neighbor at your fence line.

    It was like this until the end of 1982 when over night and with absolutely no voting or approval by Congress the word “motorized” in the 1964 Congress Wilderness Act was changed to “mechanized”.
    This wording was effectively taken by the U.S. Forest Service and interpreted as “Bicycle” -even though it does not legally or descriptively describe a human powered vehicle such as the bicycle.

    So now what a cyclist gets from their “neighbor” is a good dose of stink eye and a “don’t you know that’s illegal?” speech.

    This is mainly being written to let folks know that the wording in the current Wilderness Act, ” no mechanized travel”, also includes all forms of skiing in the Wilderness as well as any and all horse use, as horse’s are “anything other than human powered” -which is what the word “mechanized” means in the dictionary.

    Now I’m sure this will be taken as “who cares” information. But just so all Wilderness travelers are informed to updated and current battles, this open can of snakes is being pushed hard at state level’s as I write and will be pushed even harder in up coming battles -in hopes it will make its way back to Congress so we (all of us who own the public lands we call Wilderness) can finally feel good that it is being voted on instead of being pushed into law behind closed doors by the Sierra Club, as it was in 1982.

    This is only the beginning of this Wilderness battle. The bicyclist is considered by law and road rules to be a “pedestrian” and cycling is a very effective tool for transportation that is human powered.

    I don’t want to see skiing banned, nor equestrians. I do want to see bicyclists treated by law the way all pedestrians are treated and this includes being allowed to ride in our publicly owned lands we call Wilderness.

  39. This entire discussion leaves me gasping. Tim Hawke was the only person who made any defense of any other user group, and that was only limited to muscle power. And even that was tempered by “I don’t like the poopoo.”
    The fact is, the only use any of you seem to give a rip about is your own, and only that. Anyone different? Throw them under the bus so you can have it all to yourself — like Bob alludes to in his “stash” comment.
    Bikes made of unobtanium, but by golly, no unobtanium mines. Tires made of chemicals, but gosh, no petroleum from anywhere I might be able to see.
    When are you people going to understand that trying to have it both ways is going to leave you with nothing? Holy cow.

  40. Dave don’t read so good.

    “By Dave Skinner, 9-26-09

    This entire discussion leaves me gasping. Tim Hawke was the only person who made any defense of any other user group, and that was only limited to muscle power. And even that was tempered by “I don’t like the poopoo.””

    I wrote above

    “I will leave it to Bob to define his views on motorized recreation. I own no motorized reactional vehicles but I realized a long time ago that a large number of Montana residents do, they have a right to recreate in their chosen way and they also desire access to public lands.”

    You are correct in that if we all don’t compromise, no one gets anything.

    So Smithammer, why big W Wilderness rather than a different designation that contains the same protections?

    That is the question that both PP and Sean are asking you?

  41. Smithhammer – You said nothing?! Lame. Very Lame.

    We’ve had enough double speak. Step up or be quiet.

    Gone riding – check back much, much later…

  42. fenske:

    “So Smithammer, why big W Wilderness rather than a different designation that contains the same protections?”

    Fenske, did you not read my last post?

    Pedal Powered:

    “Smithhammer – You said nothing?! Lame. Very Lame.”

    PP – did you also not read my last post?

    This is beyond tiresome….

  43. Wow! So you cannot define or defend your position?

    Very tiresome.

  44. A point of clarification: I did not write the caption to the photo in the article above that asks if Lima is the next mountain bicycle Mecca. The editor added the word Mecca that certainly places an emphasis on Lima’s local riding options that I did not intend. There are really no other trails currently worth riding in the area other than the Little Sheep #1040 to Sawmill #10401 without a major trail building effort which requires time and money – which is generally in short supply these days.

    Helena is a mountain bike Mecca with a singletrack at the end of every street and a community with the infrastructure to support the demand. Lima really doesn’t have the potential to become a Mecca in these terms. BUT what Lima does offer that Helena does not is an alpine out and back ride like Little Sheep to Sawmill / CDNST. This is unique and consequently THE mountain bike draw for Lima. It’s in place right now and ready to go. No horse-trading over other potential non-existent replacement trails with no trails monies in sight. This is why this trail, and the other like it around Montana, are so vitally important to these communities.

  45. Pedal Powerd:

    “Wow! So you cannot define or defend your position?”

    Already have, in abundance, for anyone with rudimentary English skills. If that wasn’t enough, well, you’re on your own.

  46. Yep I did read that post, is said, “As I’ve said from the beginning (before all sorts of assumptions and twisted logic were applied to my supposed “agenda”), my POV is in support of a Wilderness designation, not an “anti-bike” designation as such. Is that clear enough?”

    So in effect you want big W wilderness and no other designation will suffice, even one that provides equal protection for the area but continues to allow for mountain bike access.

    That is how I read your reply.

    Please tell me if that is a correct summation.

    Thank you.

  47. No, it isn’t a correct summation at all, if you have bothered to read everything I’ve posted here. Yes, I support a Wilderness designation for Lima Peaks, HOWEVER (as I’ve already said) –

    “…I’m also not opposed to an option that would continue to allow biking, if such an option is realistic and truly feasible, and wouldn’t be the cause of further compromise with the amount of protection that the area would receive.”

    I have to re-quote my own post from above in order for you to read it? But not before you jump on the proverbial bandwagon and post huge assumptions about my position, of course.

    You’re welcome.

  48. I think we all need to take a deep breath here and remember that we all have a common goal: keep Montana’s wild places wild. With such an important task in front of us, we have find a way to keep this civil and productive.

  49. Tim; quite right.

    Smithammer, thanks again I just wanted to be sure I understood what you mean.


  50. here’s an idea. ignore smithhammer. he/she is illogical and only seeks to provoke people. i am passionate about this topic, but its not worth getting angry at a internet blogger who couldn’t ride to work on pavement over. i’m here to support the mmba in anyway possible and personally believe we should fight for every trail that is available to ride.

  51. How exactly am I illogical? I think I’ve presented a perfectly coherent point of view. If you don’t agree with it, that’s fine, but I still think I’m offering a completely valid perspective. But I guess that in the simplistic, “anti vs. pro” debate, there isn’t any room for shades of gray without having to question how “hardcore” of a rider someone is. Yawn….

  52. If we keep this constructive we might get somewhere…please?

  53. Thanks Don Cook for the historical perspective. It is true that now we must argue with folks that were once friends. The changes in wilderness managment have done no one any favors.

    Smithhammer. I understand your shades of gray analogy. Thanks for sticking with the dialog, it shows you care.

  54. Bob’s take on Lima and other communities being allowed the chance to reap income from bicyclists is right on. Bicycle tourists are streaming by on I-15 most of the year. Travelers might turn in to get gas, but that’s it. Tester’s bill, while freezing portions of the mountains in time, will also freeze some small Montana towns in perpetual poverty.

    The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act needs to be rounded out a bit more. Let the communities that are bearing the weight of Wilderness out their back door have a chance at some additional income. A few corridors, or as some have suggested, another other kind of land zoning designation, is all that is needed to keep these towns going. Right now pessimism is widespread in Beaverhead County. Adjustments in this bill will give the residents hope. Every section of the CDT trail that is put into wilderness without a corridor, adds adjacent sections to an inventory of unused trail by blocking access to large parts of the route. Lima Peaks and Italian Peak wildernesses would necessitate a 75 mile bypass of the CDT by bicyclists, and would effectively kill any possibility of bicycling ever contributing to the economy of Lima and Dell.

    A point that I would like to bring to our discussion, is about the great National Trails. The Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. Like our National Parks, which are getting airtime this week due to the creative talent of Ken Burns, the great trails are visionary treasures. People usually experience the outdoors by following where the trail takes them. However, not everyone can walk a great trail, even in small pieces. We are not all successful at hiking and carrying packs or getting the time away from jobs and family to do so. Bicycles help many of us experience the wild. Montana’s CDT is underutilized, but doesn’t have to remain so.

    The Continental Divide Trail is thankfully a bit more accessible than the other mentioned trails because bicycles are allowed on it. Montana is blessed with two great pieces of the trail that are not in wilderness, and these sections may be complete within 10 years. The trail has not been constructed as if by waving a governmental wand. Much of the mileage and continual upkeep and minor reroutes are performed by volunteer labor, organized by the Continental Divide Trail Alliance. Bicyclists need to be part of this labor force, and everyone must realize that the trail may never be done if bicyclists are removed from some of the neatest portions that until now, have not been in wilderness. We all need to hold hands on this in order to see the CDT vision through. The public, including the small nearby Montana towns, all deserve to share the completed trail and the tourism that it could bring.

    One more thing. The big distances from Yellowstone to the Pintlars, on the CDT, are best traversed by bike. Once this summer, I rode some of the CDT for a day with a friend, Tim Hawke, and the question of the day was “What National Park did we land in??” The ride felt almost like a celebration. The long grassy summits of the Continental Divide have jeep trails, mines, dead forests. Also the Divide has huge vistas, every manner of large mammal, and sometimes the occasional human visitor. Bicycles equate well to the great distances of the CDT.

  55. At today’s Bozeman town hall meeting with Senator Tester, a few horsemen / outfitters stood up and objected to the 1.9 mile corridor that would allow continued bicycle access to the #315 trail in Cowboy Heaven that completes an outstanding 26 mile point to point ride. Incompatibility between bicycles and horses was the reason presented to the Senator as to why bikes should be banned from this trail that is designated non-motorized in the Gallatin Travel Plan.

    Where was this opposition all the years that we’ve been riding bicycles on this trail? After years of riding there in harmony, why are they only speaking up now? Makes you wonder who is the puppeteer and why the continued attempt to poison good will between compatible user groups? This tactic is precisely why we haven’t had new Wilderness in Montana for 25 years…

    Sadly, this is alarmist approach only perpetuates the myth that bicycles and horses don’t mix. If these few horsemen truly have a problem with sharing a 1.9 mile section of trail with bikes, I suggest they steer their steeds into the adjoining Spanish Peaks or Bear Trap Wilderness areas to enjoy miles and miles of bicycle free trails.

    Around Montana cyclists are working successfully in tandem with the equestrians to build understanding between our groups and maintain trails important to us all. Education, respect and the ability (and desire) to share is the key here.

    When I’m out on the trail, I don’t see this anti-bike mindset as representative of Montana’s equestrian community. I will continue to extend an olive branched attitude whenever I meet horsemen and women – I for one don’t have a problem responsibly sharing.

  56. Did anyone speak for the cyclists and refute their opinions??

  57. Here is the link to Testers Contact if anyone is interested in expressing their opinion to Senator Tester about trail 315 and the above discussion between the horsemen and Tester at the meeting.


  58. Unfortunately, the opportunity to offer a positive and proactive response from the bicycle point of view did not present itself at the meeting.

  59. Wheelie, I’d love to know if you have the names of the equestrians who dropped that bomb on you, and what groups they “represent.” It matters.

  60. I love it, outfitters who are making money using public lands and they refuse to share.

    Its a fact that horses and bicycles can co-exist.

    Horse people claiming otherwise ignore the history of horse usage in military situations such as battlefields. If a bicycle can frighten a horse then the bicycle rider is a horses ass and the horseperson has done a lousy job training his stock.

    We can all get along and share.

  61. I just commented to Sen. Tester. I wish now that I had been at the Courthouse when those fellows spoke out against the 315 corridor. I could have been there, but felt I had nothing positive to say. I was wrong.

    Here is what I just sent to Sen. Tester.

    Today I missed your question, answer and introduction to your land and jobs bill at the Gallatin County Courthouse. I am disturbed to hear that a couple of horsemen confronted the decision to allow bicycles on the 315 trail near Ennis Lake.

    I want to let you know that my experiences with horsemen in the backcountry has usually been very positive. Only once was I scolded by a women on an unruley horse. She had quite the attitude, and was scolding everyone. She had a problem with her overly nervous mount. I want to convey that during the last summer bicyclists worked with the local chapter of the Backcountry Horsemen to install water bars on a trail they use for an annual poker run (ride). We also worked on a portion of the Continental Divide Trail near West Yellowstone. The Horsemen carried our supplies in to camp and transported our trail tools up to the work location. Our group put in 25 man hours on the trail that day, not counting cutting 8 downed trees to get to the spot. The stock was good around bikes, and we helped handle the stock during loading and unloading. It was a really satisfying weekend. The trail supervisor from Ashton, on the Targhee National Forest appreciated our work, and so did one horseman who came by, and 5 bicyclists who came by. No backpackers used that trail that weekend.

    From what I have seen over the years, (I’m 57) is that bikes and stock can mix just fine, but some people are intolerant of others. How do we legislate for intolerance?

    Thanks for coming to Bozeman,
    Greg Beardslee

  62. Dave Skinner – Sorry – no i.d. on the cowboy rabble rousers or group affiliation.

  63. Tom Heintz, Medicine Lake Outfitters. They have a site, rides are 300 bucks a day per body. I guess Tom doesn’t want low rent dreadheads anywhere near his expensive guests “amidst the softening influences of nature.”

    I don’t know for sure if this Tom is a fire guy for USFS, the timing of the trips is not right for being an incident commander. But here’s something from 1989 in the New York Times:

    ”The rest of the country has been, to a large degree, conquered by farms and ranches and cities and roads and telephone wires,” says Tom Heintz, a fifth-generation Montanan and a wilderness guide and outfitter. ”That’s why tourists want to come to Montana. In a way, they want to come here in order to touch the sacred. But people have to realize that roads are the kiss of death for wild lands. The people that now can find their way into those areas don’t find what they went in there for. The values don’t exist – the solitude, the tremendous wildlife populations. When an area is roaded or logged or developed – or, as the Forest Service likes to say, ‘managed’ – you transform the sacred into the mundane. It loses all its character and all its personality and all its power.”
    So Heintz goes way, way back as an exclusionist. Now you know.

  64. As someone who is back into biking after a hiatus during college, this whole wilderness/logging/motorized vehicle/outfitter/bike issue really bums me out. I was born and raised in Montana and plan to stay here for the rest of my life. It truly is God’s country. Restricting so called ‘mechanized’ access to these areas is a shame. I’m not advocating for bikes to be allowed in places they currently are not, I would just like to see the places we are currently allowed to ride, remain open. I don’t really see why that is too much to ask. A human powered bicycle is nowhere near the same as any motorized vehicle and also doesn’t impact the environment in anywhere near the same level as the motorized counterparts. The sad thing is, that most of the people voting on this have never/will never see most of the areas that these great trails take us to.

    With one of the largest land areas and lowest populations, growth in Montana is going to happen whether people like it or not. As unhappy as that may make people feel, its fact. Get with the times people, you can’t argue with me on that one. So, yes I think it’s important to keep these ‘wilderness’ areas sacred and prevent development to a certain extent. I support logging when they are going into dead and dying areas that being infested with beetles. This provides jobs and boosts local economy. Dead trees burn much quicker as well..keep that in mind. Equine users and mtn bikers can get along just fine, I have had zero problems with any horse riders to date. When I happen to come upon them I yield like I am supposed to, they say thank you and chit-chat for a few, then we both move along our merry ways. These areas are public land, for anyone from one group telling someone from another that they can’t use these trails is rubbish. Mtn bikers drink from this fountain, equine-from this one, and so on. Your mom would be very unhappy with you if she saw the way you were treating your fellow recreational area users….golden rule man…golden rule. Maybe I’m missing some major point here, if I am, please enlighten me. I would like to be able to continue riding and sharing trails all over this great state with other recreational users, not lose access because I ride a bike.

  65. Mountain biking is one of many recreational activities I enjoy in Montana. I also want lots of quiet single track trails to ride. Bob Allen mentions that Senator Tester’s bill (Forest Jobs and Recreation Act; S 1470 ) includes a series of special recreation areas in the West Pioneers, Flints and along the Continental Divide –as well as wilderness –supported by mountain bikers like myself. Allen acknowledges some of the benefits mountain bikers will realize but insists the glass is still half empty. Is it? In fact the bill already holds even more benefits for mountain bikers including:

    1. A permanent guarantee that non-motorized mountain bike use “shall be permitted” in recreation and protection areas.

    This is huge. This means access would be guaranteed to many hundreds of miles of great trail riding near Butte, Helena, Missoula and Anaconda. These are trails we ride—hours closer to where we live than the Italian Peaks. What better way to protect trails than a congressional mandate?

    2. In addition to the special mountain bike corridors in the Sapphires and Madison Range, Senator Tester ‘s bill allows mountain bike access on well over 300 miles of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.

    This means mountain bikers in southwest Montana can ride all but a few miles of the Continental Divide Trail near Helena and a few short sections of trail that traverse wilderness. This is a credit to Senator Tester for listening to mountain bikers –as Allen says—but it’s also a credit to Anaconda, Helena and Butte mountain bikers who chose to work cooperatively with wilderness groups, hikers and back country horsemen over past three years. Check out:

    3. Lastly , read the bill and you will find yet another outstanding feature that encourages the U S Forest Service to work with trail groups (AKA mountain bikers, among others) to convert unneeded roads back to trails, link trails to provide loops and add new trails –including new trails designed for mountain biking

    I worked with cooperating volunteers from Montana High Divide Trails and the International Mountain Biking Association to help build a brand new trail on the Continental Divide between Butte and Helena. http://www.imba.com/news/news_releases/09_08/09_17_montana.html

    This is a great example of how this bill looks to Montana’s future and will reward those who cooperate to improve trails near our communities. But how does the Montana bill compare with other states?

    IMBA’s website showcases successful collaborative efforts on wilderness bills recently enacted in Oregon, Colorado and Virginia. The Virginia Bill, for example, designated 8 new wilderness areas and two scenic recreation areas open to mountain biking and directed the Forest Service to create a bike trail.

    Bike-friendly companion designations in the Montana bill are 25 times larger than those in the Virginia wilderness bill supported by IMBA. The Virginia bill allows but doesn’t even mention bicycles while the Montana bill offers permanent legal protection for mountain bikers plus unrestricted access to thousands of miles of trails including most of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.

    Sure there’s always another trail somewhere but there is no question that mountain bikers will reap long-term benefits—on the ground and in policy– in its successful passage.

    Aesop tells the story of the hound dog that trots off with off a nice bone, passing a stream the dog sees another bone reflected in the water. The moment he opens his mouth to snap up the second bone the real bone is lost. Senator Tester listened to mountain bikers and introduced cutting edge legislation –unlike any in the past– that merits our enthusiastic support.

  66. Right Mike, you MWA Brass Lantern winner you…your priority is wilderness, you worked “with” mountain bikers.
    I read the bill, too. Section 205 f 3 says the use shall be permitted, but 2 says Nothing precludes the secretary concerned from closing ANY trail or route for the purposes of resource protection or public safety.” UNILATERALLY.
    And 205 d as the rest of the sections says, no campgrounds, roads, ” trail may be constructed.” Oh, gee we have to close this trail for resource protection and gee, we can’t build another. Sorry.
    And, in 206, does the “secretary concerned” retain that closure authority? In 207, the closure authority returns, but worded differently. Sloppy draft? Stealth legislation? Or just garbage?

  67. Mike Brown – it was unclear in your text but it seems that you support what MMBA is doing to protect trails across the B-D NF with a congressional mandate and support new Wilderness?!

  68. Mike B,

    I have lots of firsthand experience that says you do not speak for the majority of bikers in Montana.

    The righteous tone you put forth is your problem, while convincing and persuasive, it may have well come straight from the MWA website. But go ahead and maintain the tone, because then it is easier to discern where you’re coming from.

    By the way, I am still in favor of the High Divide. I think the trail reroutes in the Basin area will work well for bicycling. I look forward to working alongside you again on that project, sorry I couldn’t make it this year.

    There still may be many problems with the public that was excluded from that agreement, and that is the tragedy of it. Most of these agreements that are the makeup of wilderness proposals are one-sided, ethical failures. When everyone invested is at the table, a fairly negotiated result will come forth. People such as you, with wilderness agendas, may not be pleased with the outcomes, but the method would be democratic. The High Divide wouldn’t stand on it’s own without the power of a lot of “spin” being applied.

  69. I like how smithhammer has taken 3 different positions in this thread, all of them intending to stir up antipathy. And then he/she has the shriveled cojones to say that he/she would go out of his/her way to NOT ride with me, after I offered in friendly fashion to take him/her out on some backcountry rides.

    Please re-read every one of smithhammer’s posts to see what a disingenuous person he/she is.

    I haven’t put any words in anyone’s mouth, but that fact surely won’t stop smithhammer from making up lies about me. Ironic how every one of smithhammer’s attacks against me in this thread reveals that he/she uses the very tactics (s)he’s accusing me of wielding.

    I’d enjoy going on a ride with smithhammer because I know that in person, many people drop their e-bully facade. I feel fairly sure that smithhammer is just having fun here, albeit in a very perverse and bored way. What else would explain the posting of comments which take several different positions, and accuse others of saying and thinking things that they neither said nor think?


    Mike Brown’s post reminds me of political spin at its finest. Brown obscures the uglier facts that reveal the problems of Tester’s bill, hides them behind super-positivist fantasy and a lot of coloration that is best left to people who are paid to lie. I don’t assume Brown was paid to offer that spin, but I do assume he knows better than to hide the truth behind a facade of over-positive spin.


    One thing is certain on the subject under discussion here: those who choose to limit MTB access while allowing horse access are missing the point of why certain users should be restricted. If it’s about trail damage, horses are on a par with ATVs and motos, and bicycles are on a par with hikers. So if hikers are allowed, MTBs should be allowed. And if ATVs and motos are banned, then horses should be banned — if it’s about trail damage, that is.

    But I suspect it’s not about trail damage, but instead it’s about stereotypes, scapegoating, and weird selfish whims related to a highly self-involved perspective on what is acceptable travel in backcountry situations.

    If we take “mechanized” to its logical full extent, the only people and uses allowed are barefoot people wearing plain fabric clothing (no fasteners, belts, etc), and those same people dressed the same way but riding bareback on a horse with no bridle, bit, or reins. That is the only non-mechanized travel I can see.

  70. Sean I appreciate your passion but you miss the point. This can’t get personal.

    I think everyone who reads this page wants some form of resource protection but everyone has a different idea of what level that protection should be.

    Many thanks to Mike for illustrating that so clearly (that wasn’t his intention). Mike, sorry, don’t know ya but I don’t trust ya either.

    Bravo Greg! Until everyone drops the rhetoric and deals fairly and openly all we are doing is shouting at each other.

  71. Wow, Sean – I have no idea what I said to get you so worked up, but at the risk of pointing out the obvious, this discussion moved on from whatever personal skirmish you seem bent on having with me many posts ago. And in a productive direction, I might add. Take a cue from it.

    My position – the only one I have advocated, remains the same: I support a Wilderness designation for Lima Peaks, however, I’m not opposed to a solution that also includes at least some access for backcountry bikes. This seems like a feasible option, and a realistic one for us to be talking about, no?

  72. Does anyone know if our Mr. Brown is the Mike Brown that is president of UM-Helena?

  73. Again smithhammer lies. It’s really quite amazing how (s)he pretends that I’m angry… I’m not “worked up” at all. Not in the least.

    Why would you accuse me of being “worked up,” smithhammer?

    Please drop the e-bullying, the post-twisting, and the juvenilia. Please.

  74. Thanks to Mr. Allen, I looked up the lawsuit regarding the Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn WSA, and found some interesting points.

    “Members of each of the plaintiff conservation groups use the Gallatin National Forest, including the areas that are subject to the challenged aspects of the Travel Plan, for recreational pursuits, including wildlife watching, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and aesthetic enjoyment. The motorized and mechanized transport activity sanctioned by the Travel Plan will deprive those members and individuals of the opportunity to enjoy quiet solitude and serenity in the Hyalite-Porcupine-Buffalo Horn WSA . The legal violations alleged in this complaint cause direct injury to the aesthetic, conservation, recreational, scientific, educational, and wildlife preservation interests of members of the plaintiff organizations.
    Plaintiffs’ aesthetic, conservation, recreational, scientific, educational, and wildlife preservation interests have been, are being, and, unless the relief prayed for herein is granted, will continue to be adversely and irreparably injured by defendants’ failure to comply with federal law .

    Mountain bikes, which did not exist in 1977, now abound in the WSA . Both summer and winter motorized and mechanized activities have therefore increased in both intensity and spatial distribution in the WSA over the levels existing in 1977, at the time Congress enacted the Montana Wilderness Study Act . These new activities scar landscapes with motor vehicle trails, disturb and displace wildlife, and introduce engine noise and pollution into
    otherwise pristine backcountry areas.

    The Travel Plan also authorizes mountain bike use on these same WSA trails. Mountain biking is a mechanized activity that is inconsistent with wilderness character, and that did not occur in the WSA in 1977 . The Forest Service did not address the aggregated mountain bike-motorcycle impacts on wilderness character, despite evidence of intensified motorcycle use
    and greatly increased mountain bike activity since 1977. ”

    The intermingling of mountain bikes and motorcycles in completely disingenuous. When the negative impacts are described they are completely due to motorized impacts. How do mountain bikes introduce noise or pollution to pristine areas. How do mountain bikes scar by creating motor vehicle trails.

    Why the insistence on the aggregate impact of motorcycles and mountain bikes? Maybe because alone the impact of mountain bikes would be negligible.

    No doubt mountain bike use has increased since 1977, presumably hiking and horse use has also increased as the population has increased. Should they be banned also because of intensified use? If the area is overused then maybe there needs to be a permits system for all users rather than blanket bans on mountain bikes.

    Just to change the subject, there is something we can do right now. Tomorrow is the last day to file comments with the Clearwater National Forest about their proposed travel plan.


    The current plan will close sections of the State Line trail around Lolo Pass and Hoodoo Pass that are premier trails for riding.

    Also the Bitterroot National Forest has a comment period ending Nov 5. They are proposing closing trails in the Blue Joint area, along with Blodgett Canyon, Sheepshead, and Bear Creek Overlook (which I rode with lights last night in 3 inches of snow)


  75. This propoasal does not have something for everyone…thats just foolish

    A 10 percent protection of wilderness quality lands that is mostly rock and ice on the BHDL forest is hardly something for wilderness advocates. Dont tell me I want it all or i’m some wildernut becuase I dont beleive a 90-10 split is fair.

    Come on Montana grow a backbone this bill is esencially the same that mike simpson from Idaho proposed a few years back.
    It was riddled with BS and so is testers.

    Old growth and roadless are worth more to the public and env. the way they are.

    Dont settle for testers BS bill

    Tester is a lying politiican that is claiming he works for everyone.

    why is MT praising this guy for lying?

  76. Bob –there is no mention of excluding mountain bikes from any of those trails in briefs -really!

    In your zeal you omit fact I have repeatedly offered talks and dialogue based on similar principles as Montana High Divide Trails to cover any and all lands in Gallatin National Forest–

    I repeated this offer June 1 at Gallatin Valley Bike Club mountain bike summit

    Why not post my June 1st bike summit talk on MMBA web site?

    Also repeated again in an email to you just a few days ago

    The aggregate language is USFS WSA interim management
    policy which was crafted (at request of GNF) to give managers discretion to allow mountain bikes and still meet their statutory duty to maintain the historic wilderness character and potential.
    There was little or no mountain bike use in 1977 when the WSA was designated– limited motors, no ATVs

    Not sure I want to defend the language other than to say I think their intent was room to allow mountain biking in WSA that didnt exist in 1977 . There are 200 miles of trail in HPBH WSA which gives one an idea how much room their is for dialogue

    One of reasons for dialogue is to think about a legislative solution . This solution will need to include both wilderness and “bike-friendly” areas to be viable

    reading this stuff makes me wonder what it is that drives people to make such exaggerated angry claims

    pretty lame for people who are mostly neighbors in Montana

    Most mountain bikers also hike, ski and float and many who value wilderness also enjoy single track riding

    There is plenty of room for both really as well as places for driving various motors —

  77. No one will resolve this issue over a website blog. This article has brought attention to the subject.

    Express and share your concerns to Montana Government involved officials in whatever town hall venue is located in your area. Enough bickering and calling each other out on right or wrong facts. I don’t know about you, but the only further information I’d like to see posted is a date, time and location of various meetings to discuss the Wilderness Bill.

    Everyone who has written, obviously has interest to be involved for themselves, their children or the environment. I don’t care if you’re right or wrong, a biker, horseman, hiker, businessman, environmentalist, snowman builder or hunter – if you have an opinion or concern, go to a meeting in your area or write letters to the government officials involved.

  78. Lindsay,
    I appreciate your (lets just move forward response).
    This is just info to give you an Idea how MMBA has been involved in all aspects of bicycle access. We have scheduled and attended well over 100 meetings since 2006 with our land managers, our political leaders and the conservation community. We have been meeting with Senator Testers Staff about bicycle access to trails in S1470,we have presented detail topo maps with GPS data for exact trail location and we are getting a great response. Myself, a representative from Butte and one from Hamilton flew to DC on the 16th of September to meet with Senator Tester his staff, David Cobb with Senator Baucus and Mary Heller with Congressman Rehberg. IMBA has been to Montana three times in force to meet with Region One in Missoula and here to Bozeman for the Gallatin Valley Bike Club panel discussion at the University of Montana. We are making progress and the membership to MMBA is growing daily. The bicyclers above are standing up for themselves, venting some frustration and possibly a forum like this is a good place for this type of dialog so when at the table constructive conversation happens. Bob, Estela, Greg, and a bunch of others with MMBA have put in literally hundreds of hours for bicycle access in Montana.
    The WSA referenced is approx 155,000 acres, Lionhead is approx 23,000 acres, we are asking for bicycle access along with Wilderness in both of these areas. These two areas are surrounded by 3,509,044 acres of Wilderness and National Park where bicycles are not allowed on the alpine trails, sharing the alpine trails in approx 178,000 acres should be something we can all accomplish.
    Thank you
    Corey Biggers

  79. Cory –
    The hard work of people who are involved like you are who make a huge difference. I just get bummed seeing people at each other’s throats on a topic that is multi-layered and very in depth. I guess I was directing my note at those who are being negative instead of productive. I think most of us really appreciate everything MMBA is doing for our state. Keep up the hard work and thank you for being a loud and educated voice for our Montana mountain biking communities.

  80. Always leave a safety message behind on TrackAlert.com before you head out on a ride so you dont go missing!

  81. If the principals of the Montana High Divide Trails that highlights and acknowledges the importance of continued bicycle access to backcountry trails, including the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, are so universally applicable, why were attempts to have a similar dialog about the rest of the affected areas under the B-D Partnership Strategy repeatedly rejected?

    Concerning the Gallatin and the lawsuit – if it were not the intent of the plaintiffs’ organizations to lump bicycles in with motorized and remove us from the WSA, why was it done so repeatedly in the language of the lawsuit? I personally sat in Missoula’s Federal District Court in September 2008 and listened in disbelief as Timothy Preso, the Earth Justice lawyer representing the plaintiffs, tell Judge Lynch that because bicycles and motorcycles have the same impact on users, wildlife and the landscape they should be managed the same. Really? Is this obvious mistruth the official conservation party line or just a messy political necessity to further the cause? Not very neighborly in any case.

    With the WSA lawsuit as an example, it would seem that if throwing bicycles under the motorized bus was not the intent of MWA, GYC and TWS, that a realignment of the policy departments and legal departments needs to occur.

    I suggest that the first step in process of revisiting the Gallatin WSA (or any other Montana landscape) is to establish a Memorandum of Understanding between the conservation groups and the Montana cycling community that spells out what is mountain bicycling. I recommend using the MOU between the Forest Service and the International Mountain Bike Association as a template that emphasizes that mountain bicycling is a quiet, non-motorized use – like hiking and equestrian use – and makes a clear distinction between mountain bike and motorized use.

    See the Forest Service MOU at:

    http://www.montanamountainbikealliance.com/static/2008_Joel _Holtrop_letter.doc

  82. Lindsay,
    Thank you very much from everyone at MMBA


  83. For those NW.net readers interested in a detailed analysis of Sen. Tester’s bill from one of the nation’s leading experts on natural resource policy and law, I’d highly recommend they check out Dr. Martin Nie’s piece at Headwaters News titled, “Questions, opportunities presented by Montana Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.”

    It’s available at: http://www.headwatersnews.org/p.ForestJobsAct092809.html

    It would certainly be nice if Sen. Tester and supporters of his bill would address these important questions, which have actually been asked (yet ignored) for months.

    As Dr. Nie says in his conclusion, “The above questions are not driven by politics. Nor are they asked with the purpose of trying to defeat the Senator’s bill or to criticize his courageous entry into Montana wilderness politics. They are meant instead to get the public thinking about the big picture and how the parts are going to fit or not fit together. The stakes are high. If the FJRA becomes law, place-based proposals throughout the West will take a big step forward. The FJRA would be the first one out of the gate, setting precedent for others, and this is reason enough why it must be scrutinized so carefully.”

  84. This summer I traveled to Lima specifically to ride the Italian Peaks loop. It is a spectacular place well worth protecting, but you don’t have to and should not ban bicycles to protect the place.

    During our brief stay in Lima we spent about $750. Anti-bike people need to admit their bias and learn that alternate protection designations are just as protective and easier to pass when the bicyclists are listened to and allowed to participate.

  85. An article published in the Sunday addition of the New York Times on October 11th explores the challenges faced for bicyclists in Montana and highlights the Region One RWA bicycle banning philosophy.

    Wake up people – bad bicycle ‘policy’ is coming from all directions!


    I don’t know about you all – but I still generate roughly (slightly less with age) the same amount of horsepower I did 25 years ago and still get to the same middle-of-nowhere locations under my own power regardless of what bicycle I am riding. Whatta bunch of crap!

    This is why bicyclists need to actively and aggressively participate in the forest and travel planning comments periods. The Bitterroot deadline is November 5th and proposed trail closures will be affected by the RWA philosophy.

    Pay attention and make a comment!

  86. Reading the rationales for the Forest Service policy given by Dave Bull and John Favro are pretty incredible. They need to close the trails because the trails are old game trails that are degrading the ecosystem by diverting water. Then the trails need to be managed to control water diversion. It has nothing to do with mountain biking. The impact is the presence of the trail, not who is riding them. If a trail has been improved enough to allow riding a horse it can support a mountain bike.

    Dave Bull argues that we are going farther and farther back than before because our bikes are lighter. My current bike weighs as much my first mountain bike. It has better brakes and shocks that improve the return trip, but doesn’t get me any farther back.

    Plus these are straw man arguments none of the trails we are advocating keeping open in the Tester Bill would qualify as primitive game trails. Tahepia Lake and Lima Peaks are all improved trails with water bars and other water management features. The Continental Divide trail is in the same category. Hardly old game trails.

    In the current Bitterroot Travel Plan, all the proposed closures are in the buffer area between the wilderness and the population centers. They are close in since the deep wilderness is already Wilderness and closed to us. All the trails have been improved to horse standards and are suitable to mountain bikes.

    The old remaining justification left is keeping us out before we become an established use that would make it harder for congress to establish a Wilderness Area. The FS should not be making these kind of decisions that are politically, not scientifically based.

  87. At this juncture, when the fear of the ‘established’ bicycle usage of the past twenty five plus years threatens the wilderness characteristics of our landscapes for some folks, I’d like to remind everyone that in the 1890’s the bicycle is how Montanan’s sustainably and economically explored this fabulous country. Can you just imagine? The Helena cycling club made annual pilgrimages to Yellowstone Park to ride their humble mode of transport in the wildest of wilds.

    Screw the Marin County, California ‘pioneers’ of the 1970s and 80s. Montana’s mountain bicycling community was was alive and well in the late 19th century. While what we ride into the woods has changed considerably in the past 120 years, the motor of heart, lungs and passion has not. The bicycle is as much a part of Montana’s history as Lewis and Clark, Jim Bridger, John Colter, George Custer, the Copper Kings, Jeannette Rankin and Theodore Kaczynski – ok, maybe not HIM… I’m sure the original Buffalo Soldiers are spinning in their graves as they watch us, in the face of all the pressing social issues and negativity in the world, fight to keep bicycles on public trails. Whatever.

    Don’t forget our roots!


  88. I’m going to go a little of topic and rant about the Northern Region Forest Service Travel Management Plan farce.

    Someone recently forwarded an article to me about the status of the Travel Plan for the Bitterroot National Forest.


    At this time only 78 comments had been submitted. Among the reasons for the low response, “Then there are those who say the Forest Service has already made up its mind and so what’s the point of participating.” I wonder why people would think that. As far as I know the Forest Service has made no significant change to trail closures in any TMP in response to comments so far.

    In 2007 the Northern Region Forest Service instituted a philosophy of managing recommended wilderness as Wilderness, and directed the individual Forests to implement this through the travel plan.

    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to perform an Environmental Impact Survey (EIS) whenever their policies change that might impact the environment. Yet the Forest Service never did an EIS for this policy change, but instead is trying to use the Travel Management Planning (TMP) Process EIS to enforce this policy change.

    Yet in the Travel Planning EIS you are only allowed to address trail closures, not the underlying policy. You can advocate for one of the alternatives the Forest Service presents, but while there are several alternatives for motorized uses. All the alternatives, except the status quo are the same. All ban mountain bikes. The NEPA requires alternative for all actions, but this is not being done in regards to mountain bike access.

    The new Forest Service Policy states there are three option to managing recommended wilderness:
    1. Pursue a non-motorized/non-mechanized approach to management of the area through travel
    2. Adjust management area boundary to eliminate the area with established uses.
    3. Not recommend the area for wilderness designation.
    Yet some how the TMP doesn’t allow for addressing these options, and there is no other forum available.

    So you end up with a TMP that is simply rubber stamping Forest Service policy that you can’t protest because it is not in the scope of the EIS, regardless of the fact that the that the only forum for discussing the policy is the TMP.

    If this isn’t a gross violation of the intent of NEPA I don’t know what is. It is clear that the FS has a predetermined plan to close recommended wilderness and to use the Travel Planning process as legal cover.

    Unfortunately as of now it is the only platform we have no matter how rigged it is, so write letters and make enough noise that this matter can’t be buried when the FS says no one complained.

  89. After reading the comment exchange, it seems like there are a lot of differing opinions. I have a question that did not seem to be answered in “Smithhammer’s” first post, the post ended with this statement…”Quit whining, and quit putting your own pet interest above bigger picture issues.” I believe the answer to this statement is what folks are asking about… What do you see as the bigger picture? Please elaborate and identify some of the specific interests that you would like to protect this are from. It seems, after reading your posts, that would not quarrel with letting MTB travel in this area. If this is the case, why not write the bill to expand the use to these human powered activities? I would say that a bike and a reel use very similar mechanization, and I would not want to lose the use of either. Bruce, as an avid fisherman, I would think that protecting the activities dear to you makes sense. Why not support MTB on this trail, that’s all; on the trail?

  90. “It seems, after reading your posts, that would not quarrel with letting MTB travel in this area. If this is the case, why not write the bill to expand the use to these human powered activities?”

    Haven’t I already said, several times throughout this, that I’m open to that idea? If there is a way that we could enact Wilderness legislation for the Lima Peaks area in a way that would still allow for some bike recreation in appropriate areas, great. Protecting the activities that are dear to me makes sense, of course. At the same time, I also think that the notion that I should be able to pursue all the activities that I enjoy, wherever I want to, is somewhat selfish (cue the amped-up vitriolic responses again…).

    I’m still curious how many of the people with such strong opinions about this place, and this pending legislation, have ever actually been to the Lima Peaks area.

  91. I’m glad to see this important topic enduring for so long. The Lima Peaks could be protected with a National Protection Area designation. That would allow mountain bikes, and machinery to do trail maintanance. It would prohibit summertime motorized use and any development or buildings. It could be tailored either to allow or prohibit snowmobile use during a specified time period. This is still a possibility in the bill, but it would take a number of people to speaker up to Tester’s office to even get them to begin to consider it. they are pretty conservative and careful with adjustments, so far.

    BTW, tester’s bill has included a National Protection Area for Lost Creek near Anaconda.

  92. Wilderness designation has always been hard core. It cuts off lots of potential and existing uses, leaving only foot travel (consistent with other walking life forms in the area) and eliminates most economic productivity of the land. In so doing, it creates, guess what?, wilderness, where there are very few if any people angling for this and that use of the land, because they don’t have an economic incentive to. That’s the point. Sucks for the uses, but it’s why they call it wilderness. And it’s why it works.

  93. Mtn bikes dominate certaina reas near where i hike in the lolo. They have closed numerous trails this year due to rampant use and the subsequent erosion. It seems every three minutes is another group of spandex clad, holier than though biker douche while i woulnt see another hiker in that area at all.
    They destroy and dont akcnowledge the special parts of the woods like wolf and bobcat tracks that they speed over without a care. It is a completely different, poorer eperience for someone on foot where bikes dominate.

  94. Sean Oneil- your immature, outlandish comments are indicative of your vile, hateful stance towards anyone who doesnt agree with your viewpoint. We are fighting any alteration to the wilderness act whic is curently under attach but is supposedly the gold standard for enviro portection, unless tester gets his way. But hey here in MT you guys want to mine in already established wilderness areas like the cabinets mtns. Sure it will only destroy the east fork of the bull, rock creek, displace and destroy the remaining grizzlies and foul waters in the clark fork and lake pond oreille. But hey the people of MT know much better how to “manage” their public lands than us out of state yuppie trustafarians. You see if MT actually honors the wilderness act the way it is then those things wont happen. By keeping the wilderness act strong yes we have to fight the certain % of selfish mtn bikers who feel that 3.7% of the public lands off limits to them is just too much.

  95. Tester’s bill would be a travesty for MT and all forests.
    It is dishonest and full of pork.
    Support protecting all remining MT roadless and NREPA if any enviros have a backbone left out there.

  96. There are so many things wrong about that last post that I don’t know where to begin. If you can’t spell and don’t have the brains to proofread your post, you should probably just shut up and let us “douche’s” attempt a real conversation.

  97. Re. Mr. T
    Wilderness generates on avg. 33$ per acre to local economies far from worthless.

    Re. t. hawke
    I bring up valid, irefutable facts and points regarding important public lands management issues and concerns which includes mtn, biking. You offer no responses or rebutals to any of my ponits and merely refer to my admitedly poor typing and spelling performance.

    So how did your comments add to the “real conversation” timothy?

  98. Mountain bike riders are not trying to keep the Rock Creek drainage open and promote mining. We are trying to keep a few key trails open, and are looking for compromise solutions from Tester’s staff. We have been trying for the same solutions for years. We are not trying to undermine the quality of our land. We want to see it wild. Keeping it wild and sharing it are not exclusive goals.

    I find the 33 cents per acre number interesting. I don’t know where that comes from, or from what year, and it is misleading to throw it around. However if applied simply, it would mean that the combined wilderness for the Lima Peaks and Italian Peak would help employ one person for a year. Lima and Dell deserve better than that from the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

    I like the way that Mr T described the situation. Straightforward, in a Mr T kind of way. What a character.

  99. Re- Beargrass
    Labeling mt. bikers as lycra clad, holier-than-though douches, is not really an irrefutable fact. It’s just plain rude. Montanans are supposed to be kinder than that.
    Just because I’m not on foot doesn’t mean I don’t spot tracks, stop and smell the flowers, or enjoy a dip in the creek. We are out there to enjoy the whole experience, not to “destoy”.
    If seeing other users on the trails ruined my experience, well then I might just go to the gym.

  100. Re. Beardsley
    That was $33 dollars per acre of designated wilderness to local economies. Dont misquote me and then warn me about the dangers of misquoting figures. With wilderness areas like the FCRONR and SB in central ID that amounts to a good deal of money considering those areas are millions of acres. As far as sharing and conservation being incompatible how do you explain to all the hikers, hunters, outfitters etc. who recreate in wilderness areas. Also how about “sharing” with the wildlife and the forest a litte as well.
    Tester’s bill is beyond compromise, it removes numerous env. laws in regard to logging and other resource extraction. Oppoenets of NREPA claim it is soo lopsided, well Env groups could claim tester’s bill is ust as lopsided in favor of timber industry as opposed to the people of MT and the US. For a real analysis of the teser bill check out


    Re. Tim Hawke

    Just calling em like I see em. I’ve been treated quite poorly by them on the trails. I say hello to everyone and they are the rudest user group. I know you can track from a bike I used to do it all the time. I’m refering to a & of mtn bikers than ruin your entire image. With their promoting of tester’s bill which is certainly not friendly to wilderness and general disdain for any more wildenress in mt. Also shame on whoever worked with kerry white, and you guys wonder how mtn bikers get the anti-wilderness image.