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Mountain Biking in Our National Forests



 
 
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  #1  
Old December 17th 06, 09:57 AM posted to alt.mountain-bike,rec.bicycles.soc,rec.backcountry,ca.environment,sci.environment
Mike Vandeman
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Posts: 4,798
Default Mountain Biking in Our National Forests

From: a friend
Subject: Mountain Biking in Our National Forests
Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2006 17:07:42 -0800

Remarks after attending
United States Forest Service
Mountain Bike Users Listening Session

December 6, 2006
6pm
Ontario Convention Center
2000 Convention Center Way
Ontario, CA 91764

Let's cut right to it. These hearings co-hosted by IMBA are promoted
by and for a single user interest group. This is a well-funded
might-makes-right all out do-or-die campaign waged against less
organized hiking, environmental and equestrian groups.

It's not illegal to pay lobbyists to try and blur the traditional
demarcation line between mechanized trails and non-vehicular ones.
It's a change of use. The agency is justified in restricting
vehicular access to riding and hiking trails until that change can be
justified and the risks and impacts analyzed. There must be a
balance between various trail users, environmental impacts, safety,
finance, liability and public/private partnerships.

I used to go regularly into the forest for the express purpose of
escaping mechanized world. Today, I don't even own an Adventure Pass
.. That's a direct result of my own "Mountain Bike Horror Story.
There is a common sense safety element that the mountain biking lobby
chooses to ignore. Vehicles aren't allowed on sidewalks where
pedestrians walk and pedestrians walk on sidewalks because there is a
perception that they are protected from harm if they stay on those
sidewalks.

Has the agency conducted any studies to analyze the correlation
between the rise in mountain biking and declining visitation by
hikers and campers or minorities and families in areas that are
already legally, or illegally used by mtn bikes? Has the mountain
bike lobby provided any statistics on the demographics of their sport?
Do these demographics further the goal of widening the diversity of
park visitors, or would it serve to constrict those demographics?

Will the agency hold an equal number of separate hearings for the
current user groups such as the Sierra Club, Audubon Society and Back
Country Horsemen, Boy Scouts and youth groups, or is this it? If
these are the only hearings, might the comments be skewed in favor of
the Bike Lobby, because these hearings are perceived as being BY
mountain bikers FOR mountain bikers?


WHOSE THE REAL ELITIST?
Every Trail-- All The Time - Down the Trail to Single Use
The trails that mountain bike enthusiasts request conversion into
Multi-use are; historic riding and hiking trails in back country and
wilderness areas. There are miles of multi-use trails already in
existence, this hearing is focused on ONLY THOSE TRAILS to which the
Mountain Bike user groups have NO legal access. This hearing is a
demand for access to the trails that are off limits to THEM.

This demand is exclusive, not inclusive. This user group is already
using, reconstructing and building illegal courses suited only for
downhill Mountain Bike Racing. Trails that include obstacles built
by chopping down trees to construct ramps, teeter totters and
seesaws. "Jumps" where users get "air time" . Trails that are
banked so they can be traveled by a vehicle at speed around a curve.
Armored trails with a rigid trail bed and surfaces created by digging
out roots and moving boulders. These aren't multi-use trails, they are
technical courses which the majority of those present tonight hope to
permanently convert to a new use- training grounds and practice
courses for competitive sport, not simply a recreational amenity
for rest and relaxation and communing with nature.

One argument I've heard from the former President of the IMBA is that
making access legal will cut down the cost of enforcing a "No
vehicles" restriction. This argument sounds remarkably like the "Make
Marijuana Legal" arguments of the '60's. California recently passed
"medicinal marijuana" legislation. What has happened in Los Angeles
is that exception to an otherwise illegal drug use has facilitated
illegal drug sales and a nightmare load of enforcement complaints and
prostitution and heroine drug use around these "dispensaries".

MOUNTAIN BIKES ARE OPENING THE DOOR TO A GROWING RANGE OF VEHICLES
The newest mountain bikes in catalogs boast models that look more like
motocross dirt bikes. Like dirt bikes, Mountain Bikes are prohibited
on narrow trails and in wilderness areas. Both vehicles include
large knobby tires and heavy, dual suspensions which look identical.
Knobby tires' erosion damage caused by speed, can be nearly identical
between motorized dirt bikes and non-motorized mountain bikes on
downhill courses.

Agency and land managers should require the Mountain Bike Lobby to
fund the environmental studies and mitigate the range of impacts in
each area where access is requested.

Has the Agency considered other vehicles that might request access
besides mountain bikes? If every trail allows some type of
vehicle, the door is open to add other types of mechanized travel.
"Personal mobility devices" fit this category. Has the agency
considered those non-motorized devices beside mountain bikes like off
road skate boards and electric cycles which are arguing that they
can't be restricted either?.

How many miles of "no vehicle use" trails remain? Where are they?
What is the percentage (in total miles) to the trails in forests that
are ALREADY multi-use?

There are many common defensive statements made by bikers about their
"right" to multi use trails.
What about hikers and equestrians' "right" to not have these trails
converted to a race course for non-motorized vehicles? What is the
liability exposure created by an unsafe condition that mixes
vehicles traveling at a speed with hikers and equestrians?

ENVIRONENTAL DISTURBANCE
Where are the environmental studies by jurisdictional land managers
looking into the impacts on native flora and fauna in wilderness areas
opened to non-motorized vehicles?

Mountain biking popularity has skyrocketed since it was recognized as
an Olympic sport. A competitive Mountain Bike is designed for downhill
mountain bike racing. This is an EXTREME sport on a course designed
to test the enthusiastís skill and maximize the speed- it is a race
after all. This most certainly requires the riders undivided attention
on the winding dirt course directly ahead rather than admiring
surrounding natural beauty.

Lizards and many kinds of snakes stretch out on bare trails. The
velocity at which the bikers travel makes it virtually impossible for
them to swerve out of the way. With increased recreational activity
deer, bears and cougars are displaced. Shouldn't this disruption of
wildlife habitats been studied before converting even one mile of
trail?

1.Shared use trails best accommodate the needs of the mechanized
users. Those users that it doesn't accommodate are slow moving and
personally exposed hikers and equestrians
A generally open backcountry threatens hikers and equestrians for
100% of their trip. This ruins the quality of the experience because
there is the constant threat of a speeding bike "'coming round the
corner".


2. Sharing trails help polarize a trail community by increasing the
number of conflicts and near-miss encounters. It's difficult to
establish mutual respect and courtesy when your first encounter was a
threat to your personal safety. I have yet to see a Mt Biker
communicate on a downhill portion of
a trail.

3. Shared trails are not cost effective for land managers. As more
trails are open to vehicles hiking and equestrian user groups abandon
them volunteer maintenance declines and maintenance frequency
increases. Monitoring and enforcement are only portion of the
cost. Any perceived savings could immediately be wiped out by the
conversion of traditional hiking and equestrian trails if there were
to be a lawsuit against an agency created by mixing non-compatible
users.

4. Shared trails do not enable responsible, experienced users to
educate outlaws and novices. Waiting for an Education opportunity
for peer regulation in the real time trail situation in a wilderness
area is a threat to the safety, the environment and enjoyment of
others.

5. Adding mountain bike use to backcountry and narrow hiking and
equestrian trails serves a single user group-- mountain bikes. This
increases the ecosystem impacts including potential habitat
fragmentation and water sedimentation. It is clearly a CHANGE OF USE
and requires an environmental impact analysis.


IMBA is aware that local conditions vary and that sometimes separate
trails are a legitimate compromise solution to a management problem.
A designated mountain bike area could allow experts to race train
without the inconvenience of other users. They advocate setting aside
very technical, trials type sections for mountain bikers to hone
their skills. Similarly, trails designated for mountain bike
beginners might allow for individuals to develop their trail riding
abilities before joining other users on the multiple use trail
systems.
===
I am working on creating wildlife habitat that is off-limits to
humans ("pure habitat"). Want to help? (I spent the previous 8
years fighting auto dependence and road construction.)

Please don't put a cell phone next to any part of your body that you are fond of!

http://home.pacbell.net/mjvande
Ads
  #2  
Old December 17th 06, 05:16 PM posted to alt.mountain-bike,rec.bicycles.soc,rec.backcountry,ca.environment,sci.environment
S Curtiss
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Posts: 459
Default NOMT

"Not On My Trails" mentality. IMBA and the NFS create a forum for open
discussion and still the misperceptions are put forth over reality. A spirit
of cooperation to ease tensions falls on deaf ears. It doesn't matter what
was said or what efforts are put forth, there will always be those who
simply grasp at "Not On My Trails" because their viewpoints are set and to
accept anything different would, in their minds, be a defeat rather than a
measure of progress for all concerned. It is sad.


  #3  
Old December 18th 06, 02:43 AM posted to alt.mountain-bike,rec.bicycles.soc,rec.backcountry,ca.environment,sci.environment
Paul Cassel
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Posts: 264
Default NOMT

S Curtiss wrote:
"Not On My Trails" mentality. IMBA and the NFS create a forum for open
discussion and still the misperceptions are put forth over reality. A spirit
of cooperation to ease tensions falls on deaf ears. It doesn't matter what
was said or what efforts are put forth, there will always be those who
simply grasp at "Not On My Trails" because their viewpoints are set and to
accept anything different would, in their minds, be a defeat rather than a
measure of progress for all concerned. It is sad.


Actually, it's an aesthetic. Another example is snowmobiles in
Yellowstone. It's impossible for these machines to behave in such a way
as to satisfy those who think they should not be there. Even if
snowmobilers could prove beyond any doubts whatsoever that their
presence in Yellowstone wasn't harmful, many would think they should be
banned anyway.

The very presence of anything in any way mechanical offends many hikers
who see themselves as a green incarnation of Danial Boone. What you're
up against isn't a reasoned position, but a white hot hatred which can't
be dealt with south of force.

-paul
  #4  
Old December 18th 06, 05:39 PM posted to alt.mountain-bike,rec.bicycles.soc,rec.backcountry,ca.environment,sci.environment
David
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Posts: 2
Default NOMT

First off, let me say that I am a avid hiker. I backpack a couple of
times a summer, and love the summer hiking season in the Sierra. My
fiance and I are planning a hike-in wedding next June. Two summers
ago, I hiked to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro. I think you get the picture.

I am also a bicyclist. I bike to work 2-3 days a week, and cycling is
my primary mode of exercise (along with walking and swimming).
Sacramento has a excellent array of good biking trails along the
American and Sacramento rivers, and I enjoy them a lot. I think it's
fair to say that I don't "hate" cyclists.

Having said all that... I also like the fact that there are places
where I can't ride my bike. Life moves at a slower pace... no clank of
metal... no dodging vehicles (it's bad enough I have to do that in the
city)... just me and the trail. Mountain bikers... have you ever
thought of getting off of your machine, and just going for a walk??
Could you handle going that slow??

I totally support the idea that there are places where mountain bikers
can go and share trails with hikers and equestrians, and hope there
will be more of them. But I also support the idea that there should be
wilderness areas where mechanized transport is not allowed.

And I know I'm opening up myself to something here... I also support
the idea that there are places where equestrian use is not appropriate.
I have many times in the high sierras, encountered horses scrambling
around on granite, with a look of total fear in their eyes, as their
metal shoes tear up the rock and trail. I don't think my vibram soled
LL Beans have ever broken up a granite slab. I had an equestrian
person once tell me that "horses have been indigenous to the Sierras
for thousands of years." This person went on to say that "Indians had
used horses to get through the mountains for centuries." My
understanding of history is that horses were introduced to North
America by the Spanish Conquistadors. Yet the equestrian lobby (which
is pretty influential) has used this cowboy mythology to keep their
access.

There are a couple of National Parks in Alaska, where the wilderness is
so deep, that there are not even any trails. If you want access to
them, you're on your own. I really like the idea that there are places
where there are NO people at all. Truly wild places... I'd love to
experience that. Wouldn't you??

Sorry for rambling... David.

  #5  
Old December 19th 06, 10:11 PM posted to alt.mountain-bike,rec.bicycles.soc,rec.backcountry,ca.environment,sci.environment
S Curtiss
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 459
Default NOMT


"David" wrote in message
ups.com...
First off, let me say that I am a avid hiker. I backpack a couple of
times a summer, and love the summer hiking season in the Sierra. My
fiance and I are planning a hike-in wedding next June. Two summers
ago, I hiked to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro. I think you get the picture.

I am also a bicyclist. I bike to work 2-3 days a week, and cycling is
my primary mode of exercise (along with walking and swimming).
Sacramento has a excellent array of good biking trails along the
American and Sacramento rivers, and I enjoy them a lot. I think it's
fair to say that I don't "hate" cyclists.

Having said all that... I also like the fact that there are places
where I can't ride my bike. Life moves at a slower pace... no clank of
metal... no dodging vehicles (it's bad enough I have to do that in the
city)... just me and the trail. Mountain bikers... have you ever
thought of getting off of your machine, and just going for a walk??
Could you handle going that slow??

I totally support the idea that there are places where mountain bikers
can go and share trails with hikers and equestrians, and hope there
will be more of them. But I also support the idea that there should be
wilderness areas where mechanized transport is not allowed.

And I know I'm opening up myself to something here... I also support
the idea that there are places where equestrian use is not appropriate.
I have many times in the high sierras, encountered horses scrambling
around on granite, with a look of total fear in their eyes, as their
metal shoes tear up the rock and trail. I don't think my vibram soled
LL Beans have ever broken up a granite slab. I had an equestrian
person once tell me that "horses have been indigenous to the Sierras
for thousands of years." This person went on to say that "Indians had
used horses to get through the mountains for centuries." My
understanding of history is that horses were introduced to North
America by the Spanish Conquistadors. Yet the equestrian lobby (which
is pretty influential) has used this cowboy mythology to keep their
access.

There are a couple of National Parks in Alaska, where the wilderness is
so deep, that there are not even any trails. If you want access to
them, you're on your own. I really like the idea that there are places
where there are NO people at all. Truly wild places... I'd love to
experience that. Wouldn't you??

Sorry for rambling... David.

A voice of commen sense and cooperation. Too bad that position is alien to
the hardliners that can not move beyond their own bias, perceptions and
egos.


 




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