Mountain Bikers Help Save Original Red Bull Rampage Site

Jul 31, 2017
by Vernon Felton  
Aggy off the old Icon Sender.

bigquotesAs part of its ongoing work to support American energy independence and strengthen national security by reducing our reliance on foreign oil, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Utah State Office has posted a proposed list of parcels for an upcoming internet-based quarterly competitive oil and gas lease sale…

In addition, after conducting environmental review and in response to substantial feedback from the public, local and state government, and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, BLM-Utah has deferred offering three Washington County parcels totaling 4,730 acres.
—BLM Press Release

Ah, the sweet, sweet music of a government press release… Can anyone deny the thrilling, near-electric charge created by that marriage of words? Who could resist the sheer lyric beauty of nouns and verbs coming together in a paragraph, then slumping their shoulders and muttering, “Aw, screw it.” before dissolving into a pile of what-the-f*ck-ness?

Well, if the silver-tongued folks who penned that press-release lost you within the first couple sentences, here’s what they were actually trying to say: The BLM has decided not to sell off the rights to drill for oil and gas on the old Red Bull Rampage site.

Why? Because that government agency received a metric crap ton of comments from mountain bikers, protesting the proposed drilling—and many of those comments came from Pinkbike readers.

Cam McCaul 2013 RedBull Rampage in Virgin Utah

Earlier this year, we reported that the United States Bureau of Land Management (or “BLM”) was considering selling two oil and gas leases on three parcels totaling 4,730 acres in and around Virgin, Utah. That acreage included the original Red Bull Rampage site. What's more, two of the parcels sit just a mile and a half away from Zion National Park.

While the Red Bull Rampage event has moved on from the original location, daring souls still ride that first venue as well as area trails such as Flying Monkey. From a historical perspective, it'd be a shame to see the site of so many mountain biking "firsts" littered with new access roads, drilling platforms and drilling rigs. From an environmental perspective, the drilling posed a real risk to the drinking water of the local community. And, finally, there's the more aesthetic issue of dumping a giant dog turd on the doorstep of one of North America's most beautiful locales. On average, 4.3 million people visit Zion each year, bringing more than $270 million and 2,700 jobs to the local economy.

The Sierra Club's AddUp Manager, Ryan Dunfee, organized two petition drives opposing the leases a few months back. At the time, I asked him why any of this actually mattered in the greater scheme of things. We are all, after all, consumers of energy...much of it derived from fossil fuels. Why should anyone oppose drilling in this instance? This is how Dunfee, an avid rider and a former editor at Teton Gravity Research, put it.

"The lease is near the entrance to Zion National Park, and some of the proposed area for leasing includes the existing Flying Monkey DH trail as well as the original Red Bull Rampage venue, which played host to feats that blew the doors off what we thought was possible to do on two wheels, and raised the profile of the sport as a whole to a level not seen in years," said Dunfee.
Ryan Dunfee in Moab Photo by Rob Collier
Sierra Club Addup Community Manager, Ryan Dunfee, in Moab, Utah. Photo courtesy of Rob Collier.

"We’re not a sport that puts a lot of a value on our history," he continued, "but way more than a museum, a place like this actually lets you be a part of that incredible history. Riders from all over make the trip down to Virgin to ride the old venue themselves and see if they can hack it, and I think that’s an incredible thing to be able to do, and part of what makes public lands in this country so rad."

Okay, that was then. Let's get back to the now....

Graham Agassiz at RedBull Rampage 2015 Virgin Utah USA

The BLM recently announced (that quotation at the top of the page) that they were withdrawing the parcels in question from the pool of lands open to drilling.

A BLM spokesperson mentioned that his agency received in excess of 40,000 comments about the potential drilling on these three parcels that sit on Zion National Park’s doorstep, in Virgin, Utah. In other words, a whole lot of people got riled up.

“Yeah, it’s actually a bit unusual,” says Ryan Dunfee. “The BLM doesn’t usually reveal how many people sent in comments in a case like this.”

But then again… 40,000 people chiming in? That’s a lot of people....

“Well, that part is a little weird,” says Dunfee. “Because I actually submitted more than 50,000 comments between the two campaigns that we sponsored, and I'm sure other organizations and citizens submitted their own comments.... But numbers aside, it’s a victory.”

The Canadian legend clawed his way back to another top 10 Rampage performance on his new ride.

Dunfee notes that comments and petitions, naturally, weren’t the only forms of feedback that likely influenced the BLM. “There was also a tremendous of effort put out by people working behind the scenes—locals living in Zion and St. George—who were making their case,” says Dunfee.

But Dunfee is quick to point out that mountain bikers—and Pinkbike readers in particular—played a real role in the decision to keep the old Rampage site free of oil derricks and the like.

“Mountain bikers in that campaign, submitted 37,825 comments. And really the majority of those comments—as far as I can tell—came from Pinkbike," says Dunfee. "It was a super impressive amount of comments from the bike community.”

Impressive, indeed.

In this age of polar bears eating polar bears and people gouging one another's eyes out over a perceived lack of national pride (okay, maybe that's more of a thing in my country than yours...), it's heartening to see that we can make a difference.

A story gets posted on Pinkbike. Readers give a damn. They speak up. Things change for the better.

So, while I realize that our readership is split over whether or not drilling on the old Rampage site was a good or bad thing, I doff my hat to everyone who wrote in and voiced their opinions.

Thank you.

Posted In:


  • 121 1
 Translation: "The BLM received no interest in the parcels".
  • 7 1
 Yea, the oil industry ain't exactly flush with cash at the moment!
  • 2 1
 @Bomadics: If its gas their drilling for then the industry is more than flush with cash! Oil is not what's big in US drilling anymore, its gas and we're shipping the stuff in liquid form all over the world.
  • 18 1
 no, totally the response from the online Pinkbike community. I mean, have you learned nothing from the Kony 2012 heroics? The keyboard slacktivists deserve another pat on the back here.
  • 4 0
 @dirtyrig: Well there are 766 "oil rigs" and 192 "gas rigs" working at the moment in the US.
  • 3 1
 As much as I would love for this to be a case of "our" elected officials doing what their people want, I am unfortunately going to have to agree with you. But, I am still very happy it worked out.
  • 3 1
 @employee7: where did you get your numbers?
  • 2 0
 @therealtylerdurden: Thanks! Seems legit.
  • 1 1
 @MortifiedPenguin: no problem! Trump had a press meeting today, and said he'll will be releasing new numbers next week. Said that drilling has really been ramped up.
  • 3 0
 @therealtylerdurden: trump doesn't have anything to do with those numbers. Baker Hughes has been releasing that data since 1944.
  • 1 1
 @employee7: okay, he said big numbers will be release next week. My bad.
  • 43 2
 Pat yourselves on the back PB-ers! On another note. Please take note Sierra Club and stop giving us mtb-ers so much shit. We love the wild and deserve trail access too!
  • 23 1
 Bigger pat on the back for the locals in the area as well as UT MTBers. I love the article about saving the original site without a single picture of the original site, haha.
  • 2 0
 I noticed that too! Lmao@scott-townes:
  • 33 1
 Can i get PBers to raise enough of a stink to get my friggin' neighbors to mow the damn lawn or move their vehicles?
  • 49 0
 For the last time, I'm not going to do either. And stop throwing dog poop over the fence onto my side.
  • 3 1
 I'm fixin' on them cars.
  • 29 2
  • 25 3
 If it wasn't for you meddling cyclists, the BLM would have got away with it.
  • 21 1
 Funny to see Sierra Club benefit from mtb riders. Now if they could reciprocate and back off on their policies involving 2 wheels in forested areas. Not our friends.
  • 12 0
 Can Pinkbike set up a "Trails up for destruction" tab or something along those lines??? Maybe even linked with TrailForks and/or IMBA? I have now had 2 instances of local trails destroyed without me knowing. Literally, I was our for a casual local ride when I came around the corner to see my favorite parts leveled for expanded exit ramps or buildings. Its the worse feeling. I've gotten flats, cracked frames, and had my fair share of break ups, but honestly, there is nothing worse then seeing your tried-and-true destroyed. It's hard for me to know where to get active, other then donating my dollars but if I knew areas were up for destruction, in my backyard or not, I would LOVE to be able to help in anyway I could.
  • 6 0
 That's a great idea.
  • 2 0
 Sorry for your loss. I think I know the feeling. My "most local" trail was flattened and paved after they did some minor excavation to reroute water flow to a nearby dam. Seemed unnecessary to me but I guess someone thought it was a good idea.
  • 1 0
 @vernonfelton: could PB/you consider doing a piece on Sierra Club and MTB's history? I for one only know the bad blood, I'd be curious to see the other side of things if there is one, and just learn about them as they relate to our sport.
  • 2 0
 @jwestenhoff: I'm keen to do that. Working on it!
  • 15 2
 We did it Reddit
  • 5 1
 LOL, most of the decision came from input at local town halls and meetings, not online petitions.
  • 7 0
 @scott-townes: Absolutely. 100 percent true. That's why I made sure to include this in the article:

Dunfee notes that comments and petitions, naturally, weren’t the only forms of feedback that likely influenced the BLM. “There was also a tremendous of effort put out by people working behind the scenes—locals living in Zion and St. George—who were making their case,” says Dunfee.

PB readers were just some of the people who helped influence the BLM's decision, but I personally think it's amazing that so many PB readers spoke up--that in, and of itself, is pretty cool. We have clout, should we decide to harness it. At the end of the day, some people may not care about the original Rampage site, but there are a whole lot of mountain bike trail access situations we can have an impact on and this proves that's the case. Cheers.
  • 4 0
 @scott-townes: buddy, you are interrupting the circlejerk
  • 6 2
 @vernonfelton: I understood your article completely. It seems a few readers here did not, who I was correcting... as well as you it seems, haha. Yeah there's a little clout in online petitions, but its an incredibly small amount of clout. The main reason for this issue being abandoned is not because it was the OG Rampage site, but rather an awesome area for recreation that also happens to be very close to a major water source for tens of thousands, and right outside the most visited national park in the U.S. Yeah your version sounds neat but its also not accurate at all.
  • 6 0
 Between saving the earth and solving the great Bragg Creek barbed wire caper, cyclists can do anything
  • 4 2
 Similar thing in the UK when the government tried to sell off the forests. Needs mountain bike sites and magazines to raise awareness then we can fight. Without the platform and a community we wouldn't have a clue what's going on.
  • 5 0
 I love how not a single one of these pictures came from the original rampage site.
  • 3 1
 @Vernon Felton: Kudos on this one big time. Obviously there were other local interests that spoke up as well, which you mentioned in the article, but the point is we Mtbers have a voice! And it's mostly a positive one. I'm not going to go into any of the neg props in the comments on this one. This is a cause for celebration and for all of us to realize that we as a community have a voice. We need leadership to focus our voices, but we can help to create positive forces and we aren't helpless to protect our right to ride and protect the places we ride! Thanks for this one Vernon.
  • 7 4
 Cue binary "my side is always right, the other is always wrong" political comments from BOTH sides of the broken & dysfunctional two-party system in 3...2...1..
  • 8 3
 **Disclaimer**, I find BOTH US main parties as political clowns. AND....good to see this area preserved.
  • 8 1
 Honestly, I think you'd find many, maybe even the majority of Americans, saying that both parties are terrible. But until we can do something about campaign finance, or move to an election system that doesn't inherently set up a 2 party system, we've got to live with the results, & you're going to naturally gravitate to one side or the other (that's part of the reason the 2 parties coalesce in the first place.) You're left with the choice of not participating, or at least trying to effect some good in the world.

I disagree on many subjects with the party I'm registered with. but I disagree with the other party far more, & efforts to elect a candidate who's main platform was campaign finance reform ultimately failed (though you can make a sound argument that the executive branch has limited ability to effect change on the subject anyway.)
  • 2 1
 @groghunter: The main reason we have a two party system is because of the way it's actually structured. We need a system like the U.K. Which has a parliamentary system and a PM rather than a president. The parties under a system like that actually need to form a working govt. in other words gridlock and refusing to do anything results in a vote of no confidence and a general election gets called. That type of a system lends itself to more than two parties. Ours does not.
  • 2 0
 @fattyheadshok: I did literally say that our election system is why we have 2 parties in the second sentence I typed. The US is the first modern democracy. Turns out humanity has figured out a few improvements to the model in the intervening couple centuries, unfortunately, we haven't adopted most of them.
  • 5 1
 I love everyone driving their monster trucks laden with dh bikes and cell phones griping about the oil industry lol
  • 2 1
 I love capitalism but f*ck the government taking ownership of land and then pimping it out... That's NOT a free market, it's state-sponsored corporate greed (as are most of these type of issues with our economy... but I digress).
  • 2 1
 Awesome to see what the power of coming together can do. Maybe now if we all come together again and start messaging bike companies they can all agree on hub sizes. Just a thought....
  • 11 10
 not one person here is going to ride that place, If I were there right now, I wouldn't be able to ride that place! but I do need oil and gas. And that is the truth If you want to recognize it or not!
  • 2 1
 I'm sure you need oil and gas AND earthquakes
  • 6 6
 Has anyone here ever seen an oil well? They take up about the same amount of space as a decent landing ramp. I'm not saying that I'm supportive of drilling on the site, but we can't say in good faith that drilling would destroy any ecological value any more than biking it would. The real bummer would be that there are a ton of fun features there that us mere mortals CAN ride, and it's fun, but there's all sorts of riding just like it nearby as well.
  • 7 3
 You ever seen a drilling rig and the roads, trucks, and equipment needed to drill said well?
  • 5 7
 @Dirtylegs91: Yeah, the roads are a big deal too. It's just my hope that the community would rise up against a solar or wind farm in the same manner. Those destroy a lot more land than oil drilling does.
  • 3 0
 @Dirtylegs91: like any construction project you have to make a mess before you can clean it up, and when it's all done the affected area is smaller than the house you live in. Even a golf course looks like a natural disaster when they're in the middle of construction.
  • 2 0
 @iamsx: everybody is pro solar and wind power on the internet but when a company comes in and proposes to build the infrastructure required everybody goes "f*ck that, I don't want to look at it"
  • 1 0
 @Boondocker390: A golf course looks like a natural disaster when they're finished, too.
  • 6 4
 Maybe a country should think to use less petrol to be less dependant from foreign oil.
  • 4 0
 Same can be said of all countries my friend. No one is immune to the oil addiction.
  • 5 5
 "less foreign oil", by that you mean drilling for your own? Basically what the US is doing in this case. Take all the politics out of it.....the world is slowly moving away from oil. Oil will always be part of the world. Is what it is. The US and Canada to a degree have finally "broken the back" of OPEC. We/the world is no longer a slave to those countries and their oil stranglehold. If they decide to drastically reduce production, the US, Canada, etc. can quickly level out production to meet demand.
Now as for less fossil fuels being burned, we as a race will get there. Again, take the politics out it, we are slowly moving that way. "We" as a whole are just in the beginnings of that move that will take 100 years to fully mature
  • 4 1
 I can't read BLM without thinking 'bowel movement'.
  • 3 1
 I'll be in Zion in a couple of days. Could someone give me directions to both old and new rampage sites? Thanks
  • 1 0
 Old site is on Kolob Reservoir Road a few miles in to the left, you can see it from the road. New sites don't leave stuff up to ride afaik, not that people are going to show up and casually ride those lines anyway. The old site has some fun stuff to mess around on.
  • 2 0
 @GorgeousBeauGaston: I won't ride it anyway. I just wanna see how big it is in reality.
  • 2 0
 I signed their petition and all i got were three emails a day from the Sierra Club asking for money.
  • 1 0
 Gotta fund their anti mtn bike crusade somehow
  • 2 1
 Don't worry trump is deregulating everything. Big oil and gas will move in and make it a waste land.
  • 3 2
 Didnt read all this, but cool!
  • 2 1
 Who cares about the old site? Honestly...
  • 4 1
 My guess would be people that enjoy riding mountain bikes at the old site
  • 2 3
 Way to stoke the resistance, PB!
  • 1 2
 Yippie the land is saved Big Grin
  • 7 8
 This is how we make merica great again!!
  • 5 10
flag therealtylerdurden (Jul 31, 2017 at 21:10) (Below Threshold)
  • 1 1
  • 3 4
  • 2 4
 nice to see what the PB community can do.
  • 2 3
 I love you guys
  • 1 3
 Proud "Pinkbike" reader and voter. Proud of all of you guys. Cheers.
  • 1 3
 Clown biking, not mountain biking.
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