MTBer: No mountain bikes in wilderness (MT)
No mountain bikes in wilderness
12 hrs ago
Thom Bridge, Independent Record
Montana High Divide Trails
This is a response to the mountain bicycles in wilderness effort. First, a bit about me. I have four bikes: a specialized Allez road bike, an old specialized Stump Jumper mountain bike, a Surly Pugsley fat tire bike, and a Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bike. I ride them all at various times. I live 30-plus miles from the nearest telephone pole. Here, north of Polebridge, there is no grid here to be off of. Part of each year I spend several months living on top of a mountain as a forest fire lookout, looking for fire. I write all of this to define what forms my thoughts.
I love to ride my fat tire bike back in the woods/mountains where I'm allowed; and where I'm not, I respect the rules of wilderness. I love knowing wilderness is there and is a constant sanctuary of the way it was and I hope that it always stays as it is. The Sustainable Trails Organization (www.sustainabletrailscoalition.org) and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (www.imba.com) remind me of a petulant child. One who is sitting in a supermarket cart full of nutritious food, leans towards the candy display and screams "I want that." A temper tantrum focusing not on what they have, only what they don't have.
I say no bikes in existing wilderness. There are so many more acres to ride in than designated wilderness Â* Bureau of Land Management lands, national forest lands and state lands. Here where I live, there is a coalition of folks who gathered together to find common ground on working for national forest land use. They are called The Whitefish Range Partnership and this partnership consists of a diverse group of snowmobilers, loggers, mountain bikers, wilderness associations, backcountry horsemen, private land owners and other special-interest groups. They have collaborated to come to a mutual multi-use land plan for the Whitefish Range that satisfies each of the groups. This agreement was reached by consensus Â* unanimous agreement. Then, it was submitted as a proposal to the Flathead National Forest in their planning process. No one got exactly what they wanted, but they came to an agreement that they could all live with and enjoy. I feel that future wilderness designations will come about as a result of collaborative efforts and contain compromises to satisfy the various land use interests.
I'm hoping that the various mountain bike groups here in Montana realize what a precious place our wilderness areas are and that they work to lead the way for other mountain bicycle groups to leave them alone. And that they also lead the way to create new trails through collaboration with other groups. But I don't want existing wilderness rules to change.
Bill Fordyce is a mountain bike owner and rider who spends several months each year acting as a fire lookout.
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