Will Mountain Bikes Be Allowed in US Wilderness Areas Any Time Soon?

Jan 20, 2021 at 10:52
by Alicia Leggett  
Matt Thompson on the Continental Divide. Climbing the final ridge near the 13k foot summit of Grizzly Peak near Loveland Pass CO
Remote places have a special, raw beauty.

Since the start, mountain bikes have lived in a certain gray zone in terms of definition. They’re not motorized; they are mechanized in that they provide a mechanical advantage, and they are human-powered. Their ambiguity puts them in an awkward spot when it comes to wilderness access. Opponents of bikes in wilderness argue that their presence detracts from the raw, simple experience of being in the wilderness. Advocates argue that mountain bikers want to visit the wilderness for the same reasons anyone else does: for that same raw, simple experience that mountain bikers would supposedly disrupt. The debate is a long way from reaching a peaceful homeostasis.

Legislators in the United States recently heard arguments in favor of Senate Bill 1695, the Human Powered Travel in Wilderness Act, the most recent unsuccessful bill to remove the ban on mountain biking in wilderness areas and give local authorities the power to ban or allow bikes on case-by-case bases. An advocacy nonprofit called the Sustainable Trails Coalition backed S.B. 1695 and continues to work on finding cooperative solutions between mountain bikers and other user groups. Now, with the 116th Congress over and no action taken on S.B. 1695, the bill has been archived and we’re back in the waiting game.

How Did We Get Here?

For decades, those who want to protect the wilderness have struggled to define and redefine the Wilderness Act of 1964, which designated a set of protections to protect precious areas of land and encourage appreciation for those areas. The text, written before mountain biking was around, banned mechanized transport without bikes in mind. It specified what tools could be used for trail work — no chainsaws — and has protected the wildest places by minimizing human impact. In 1984, as mountain biking emerged and riders started to explore off road, the term ‘mechanized transport’ was clarified by the Forest Service under increasing pressure from traditional environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society, and mountain bikes were deemed unwelcome.

The little things count too. Spring Trillium Washington State.
It's been shown that bikes have a negligible impact on trails and biodiversity. Still, if visitation to wilderness areas increases, it will be important for riders and hikers alike to understand the importance of respecting local flora and fauna.

Idaho and Montana

The issue has become hotter over the last decade as Idaho and Montana gave the biking community specific examples of what it looks like to have trails taken away.

Idaho’s Boulder and White Cloud mountain ranges were almost incorporated in 2014 into what would have been a peaceful land protection agreement. It was almost the solution mountain bikers and declared conservationists alike had hoped for. Then politics intervened.

The plan was to turn the area into a national monument. Unlike wilderness areas and national parks, national monuments each have their own management plan, potentially allowing bikes, and only require presidential approval, unlike wilderness designations, which need to go through Congress. Up until the monument was proposed in 2014, Republican Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho had introduced a bill every single year for the past decade to try to make the White Clouds a wilderness area. None of his bills had gone anywhere. Then, as the monument plan started to look like reality, the Idaho legislators decided they would rather approve Simpson’s bill than accept an Obama-approved national monument. The bill sped through Congress in just two weeks, and with the creation of the Boulder-White Cloud Wilderness, the mountain bike trails disappeared.

Things become more frustrating for mountain bikers, too, when bikes are banned from not only wilderness trails but trails in areas that might one day become wilderness. Montana has lost more than 700 miles of trail in the last decade, largely to ‘recommended wilderness areas’ (RWAs), which are essentially wilderness areas in dress rehearsal as they await Congress' approval, which can take decades. Most recently, Montana’s Bitterroot Valley lost 110 miles of singletrack to the Sapphire and Blue Joint wilderness study areas in a series of court battles that hinged on administrative technicalities and inflamed tempers on both sides of the issue. While that particular area is permanently closed to bikes, the conflict brought bike access into the spotlight, and groups on both sides of the issue are braced for future battles.

Layers of time. There are fossil records in those cliffs of all that came before us. John Day Oregon.
The question: Does the presence of bicycles disrupt the quiet feeling of distance from civilization?

What's the update?

The biggest update is that there is no real update.

The nationwide debate continued to evolve in November when the US Forest Service and the Department of Interior voiced their support of S.B. 1695 in the bill’s first hearing since its introduction in May 2019 by Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah. S.B. 1695 was the most recent of several House and Senate bills to be considered. However, legislators never got around to voting on it before the congressional session ended.

It's likely that an equivalent bill will be introduced in the next Congress. Although bills do not carry over between congressional terms, legislators often reintroduce their own bills over and over until one lasts long enough to make it to the vote.

S.B. 1695 didn’t include any subtext that would weaken wilderness protections, and rather than bringing about a blanket permit as some fear, it tried to move the power to ban bikes from federal to local authorities. It was written in specific, narrow language to avoid opening doors that might harm wilderness areas in the future. If the bill had passed, it would be up to land managers to determine whether biking is appropriate in any given area. Given that research has overwhelmingly shown that mountain biking has a negligible impact on trails (less impact than horses), the more significant effects would be social. Wilderness trail users go to wild places for the feelings they evoke, and many hikers and equestrians argue that the presence of mountain bikers would disrupt that primitive sense of distance from human civilization.

What’s Next?

If user groups can compromise on a solution, it would have to be a solution that doesn’t catastrophize or turn a nuanced situation into an all-or-nothing fiasco. Such a solution might include allowing mountain bikes access to certain wilderness areas through a permitting system to keep the traffic sparse, designating a few specific bike-friendly trails through certain wilderness areas, and working with a diverse set of interest groups to preserve the remote feel of those spaces.

Many hope the next Congress will introduce a similar bill. Many hope it won't.

If such a bill passes, some opponents may find unexpected help. Including mountain bikers in discussions around wilderness trails would add a huge workforce of recreationalists who tend to enjoy trail work, so it would likely spell good things for the maintenance of remote trails. After all, mountain bikers want access for the same primary reason that hikers argue against mountain bike access: the privilege of experiencing unique landscapes. Hikers and equestrians argue against mountain bike access because they treasure those places. Mountain bikers, as it turns out, treasure them too.

Hoh River Olympic National Park Washington.
We all want to appreciate wild places. We just need to figure out how.

Author Info:
alicialeggett avatar

Member since Jun 19, 2015
728 articles

  • 171 14
 Not a chance with E-bikes receiving non-motorized status now (in most locations). Environmental groups will scream even louder about all bikes in wilderness, now that they have Ebikes to also complain about. This isn't a complaint about Ebikes, just stating how other user groups will make their argument.
  • 76 33
 eff'ing Emopeds
  • 146 8
 Spot on. I am indifferent about ebikes for the most part at this point. That said, they level of disdain to even 'regular' MTB's in western states specifically by other user groups cannot be overstated. Equestrians in particular (and by default orgs like Sierra Club) look for any and every reason to ban bikes. Emtb's aren't doing anyone any favors on the trail access front.

I will await my downvotes...
  • 31 12
 @bman33: there’s absolutely no chance bikes will be allowed into the Wilderness, especially without ANY support from IMBA. Also every cool outdoorsy person’s favorite brand: Patagonia recently had an article on their website about why bikes shouldn’t be allowed in wilderness, and it was written by grimy handshakes Mike Ferrintino. It’s probably obvious which two organizations I will no longer support.

  • 64 0
 @bman33: Equestrians act like horses were part of the environment for millennia when they were only brought over by Europeans 500 years ago. If Europeans were riding mountain bikes 500 years ago they would’ve brought them instead!
  • 21 55
flag wolftwenty1 (Jan 29, 2021 at 13:01) (Below Threshold)
 @DizzyNinja: You guys dont acknowledge the fact that horses are part of Western Heritage. This isn't about horses vs. bikes like many bikers like to make it. this is about leaving the land wild...more access will not do what the wilderness act as originally set out to protect...you guessed it WILDERNESS.
  • 73 5
 @MikeyMT: horses do more damage to the wilderness than mtn bikes do, just because it eats and breaths doesn’t nullify that fact. They’re a small part of western heritage that are also symbolic of destroying a much larger part of heritage, native culture...
  • 12 11
 @DizzyNinja: Yea I've seen those reports as well and they do seem sound. But I wonder if on the whole that holds up...? (I have no idea)...meaning that 1 horse causes more damage than 1 mountain bike. But horses are expensive, not easy to transport and generally speaking less prevalent on trails than bikes anyway.

So lets make up an example to illustrate what I'm trying to say...if the trail in my region, or your region gets an average 100 people per day on it...60 hikers, 35 bikers, and 5 horseback riders...which user group does the most damage? I have no idea, but on the whole is the only way to look at this problem...the 1:1 comparison is obvious...but even my example above is nowhere near the real volume of bikes vs. horses that I see when I go out on multi-use trails. Perhaps that varies from region to region, but all teh places I've ridden that ratio generally holds up. So who does more damage on the whole...and as far as wilderness access goes, who has the potential to cause the most damage? That group needs to be governed and moderated IMO.
  • 20 2
 @MikeyMT: so you're basically arguing for legislation that gives more access to a privileged minority? I'd rather lottery and limited access than that.
  • 20 2
 @MikeyMT: if that’s your argument then you’re giving more votes to each horse back rider than each mtn bike rider due to usage. Not very democratic. I frequently ride in a shared use area, some dedicated trails, some overlapping trails. Where the most damage occurs is in muddy areas after storms. The difference being, bikers have a choice (not all make) to get off and walk their bike avoiding the mud bogs. Getting off a horse doesn’t remove much relative weight so the horse still fks up the trail, but to the ppl that think it’s an important part of our heritage it’s okay..
  • 12 2
 @sspiff: Im giving a possible scenario for why the current system remains the way it is and a broader view of why this is not bikes vs. horses - this is limiting damage on the whole.

The goal of the wilderness act is to keep the land undisturbed as much as possible. Less people will be less damage, regardless of their means of travel.

Lottery would be great but there is no way to enforce it.
  • 14 1
 @DizzyNinja: My example is just that..an example of why comparing damage by 1 horse to 1 bike is senseless given usage numbers.

The current legislation is intended to do 1 thing - keep the land 'wild and undisturbed'. You seem to agree that people are making 'bad' decisions already in areas that don't even fall under that distinction...do you not think that those same people will not also make those same 'bad' choices in the wilderness?
  • 15 10
 @unrooted: Bingo. After IMBA's stance what?...2 years ago against MTB on any wilderness land, I refuse to support them or anyone or org attached to them. Patagonia and a few others similar will not get any of my money moving forward either. To be clear, I am not asking for a Whistler or full blown bike park in every nook and cranny of the land, just reasonable access where in makes local sense for backcountry type trails.
  • 26 0
 @MikeyMT: If you consider horses you can't ignore that those typically include a dually F450 and 30ft horse trailer that takes up the entire trailhead...
  • 2 0
 @DizzyNinja: I appreciate your point but would like to note that there were also prehistoric horses in North America that died out before other subspecies were reintroduced by Europeans.
  • 13 16
 @MikeyMT: @MikeyMT: spot on, man. We need to protect our natural land. All the downvotes on your comment show how greedy people are.
  • 52 12
 Environmental groups and preservationists will scream about giving acces to Mountainbikes if that includes E-Bikes, and rightfully so. E-Bikes have probably ruined the prospect of a peaceful coexistence of environmental protection and mountainbiking. Not just in the US, but in Europe aswell.

And all that just because people are too f*cking lazy to pedal up hills. Disgraceful.
  • 8 35
flag WildboiBen (Jan 29, 2021 at 16:40) (Below Threshold)
 @BenTheSwabian: @BenTheSwabian: people can have all sorts of reasons to ride e-bikes, including being disabled. Regardless, it's none of your damn business and they should be able to enjoy themselves without judgement from a*sholes like you.
  • 13 14
 @MikeyMT: @MikeyMT: Bicycles do not infringe of the wildness of lands. Your argument is without merit.
  • 8 14
flag WildboiBen (Jan 29, 2021 at 17:15) (Below Threshold)
 @RipplingOverCanyons: They do though. Ask any ecologist. I should know. Facts aren't facts just because you say them.
  • 7 19
flag DizzyNinja (Jan 29, 2021 at 17:39) (Below Threshold)
 @BenTheSwabian: watch the Accomplice (mtn bike video), you’re gonna feel like a really big A hole at the end of it. Not everyone rides an Ebike cause they’re lazy...
  • 9 1
 @WildboiBen: I'm not sure that the articles you posted below support the idea that bikes infringe on wilderness, unless you're trying to argue that mountain bikers have about the same level as impact hikers.

For instance, from the abstract of the warbler article (I don't have full access), the authors note no noticeable change in male or female behavior and note that mountain bike impacts are minimal.

The Marion/Wimpey article notes in its conclusion:

"The environmental degradation caused by mountain biking is generally equivalent or less than that caused by hiking, and both are substantially less impacting than horse or motorized activities. In the small number of studies that included direct comparisons of the environmental effects of different recreational activities, mountain biking was found to have an impact that is less than or comparable to hiking."

as well as:

"Trail design and management are much larger factors in environmental degradation than the type or amount of use."

Finally, the Burgin and Hardiman article notes that "They concluded that the major ecological impacts were habitat alteration; constriction of the paths of animal movement; barriers to the movement of fauna; potentially isolating populations and communities; collision; and a source of biotic and abiotic effects. It was their view that, ‘often to a lesser degree’ these impacts were equivalent for recreational tracks used by bushwalkers."

All of that pretty much lines up with other literature that I've seen that analyzes mountain bikes and their impact on the natural world. I don't think anyone is arguing that our recreation doesn't have impact - just that it has no more impact than other human powered activities currently permitted and that the continued exclusion of cyclists is not justified by science or the language and legislative history of the Wilderness Act.
  • 8 2
 @actonca: the main point is that they do have impacts unlike many people here have claimed and that the impacts can vary from place to place. We can't just build trails wherever we want, will nilly. And the damage compounds over time with increasingly heavier usage.
  • 6 10
flag JEDDE (Jan 29, 2021 at 18:18) (Below Threshold)
 @shwinn8: watch Accomplice on Netflix it highlights Paul B. story and his injury. Ebikes are a huge part of his recovery. Quit being a closed minded tool.
  • 2 2
 @actonca: "While there is a dearth of information on the impact of mountain biking, we conclude that park management needs to be strategic in their consideration of the issues associated with mountain biking or the outcome will be further degradation of natural areas and, at the least, loss of many animals if not major threats to populations."
  • 10 0
 @WildboiBen: Well, if your argument is everybody has impact and that said impact needs to properly managed, then perhaps we should regulate access in a more nuanced and thoughtful manner than the wholesale banning of a particular user group.
  • 4 8
flag WildboiBen (Jan 29, 2021 at 18:23) (Below Threshold)
 @actonca: from the Warbler article for reference: "The cumulative effect of disturbance from mountain biking trail use on Golden-cheeked Warbler foraging and nesting behavior appears to be minimal, but fragmentation and alteration of habitat by mountain biking trails may reduce quality of nesting habitat for Golden-cheeked Warblers."

To a lay person I can see how this can be taken to mean that we don't have to worry at all about the impact of mtb. However, and this is just one case, often times these sensitive species are subject to a number of anthropogenic stressors that together compound into much more significant disturbance.
  • 7 0
 @actonca: Absolutely. But it requires time and resources to conduct necessary research to inform those nuanced management decisions. Also keep in mind, mtb is a low priority for land managers, as there are generally more pressing issues that need to be addressed at any given time. The pragmatic approach is to not build trails until more information is available. Furthermore, these are just a few select examples. There are sensitive habitats out there, some with rare, endemic species that do need full protection. It's a complicated thing and we can't just build trails wherever we want without considering ecological impacts.
  • 4 5
 @WildboiBen: sounds like an opinion from the east coast.
  • 7 0
 @WildboiBen: It goes without saying that new trails in Wilderness areas require careful consideration to determine the potential impacts.

The issue in areas like the Boulder-White Clouds, WSAs, etc... is that cyclists have been excluded from existing trails when the vast majority of literature (including the one's you have posted) show that their impact is largely comparable to a hiker.
  • 5 3
 @Hayek: I'm an ecologist. What do you do?
  • 8 2
 @WildboiBen: I’m an economist.
  • 8 3
 @actonca: I mean, if it went without saying there wouldn't be so much debate about it. And yeah, I'm all for allowing mtb on existing trails. Though, I would be interested to see some research on the impacts of the extra digging and trail building that often occurs as a result - especially when folks start building new jump lines, etc.
  • 2 9
flag WildboiBen (Jan 29, 2021 at 18:47) (Below Threshold)
 @Hayek: ah okay, so not an ecologist then. Well hey then I won't assume I know more about economics than you - unless you're a conservative economist. Trickle-down is bullshit :p.
  • 11 0
 @WildboiBen: I’m a reasonable person and I bet you are too. My point is land management is frustrating in the west where millions of acres (bordering metro areas) are locked up forever without any possibility for sustainable use no matter how reasonable the proposal. I lived in DC for years. You and I both know that land management/ownership has a very different history than it does in the west. You don’t have millions of acres locked up forever. There’s at least the possibility of bringing a reasonable plan to the table and granting access on a case by case basis.
  • 7 0
 @Hayek: ah okay, yes very true. We really don't have any land left for mtb trails around this area, unfortunately. We're making up for it in other ways though. Montgomery County just bought a bunch of fancy new jumps that are over by the Schaeffer Farm trails. Still, even out West it depends on where you are. In parts of Southern Utah, Colorado, etc. you have to worry about cryptobiotic soil for instance. The key is, as you said, going on a case by case basis and just being careful doing proper impact analyses. My comments were more for the "I'll ride wherever I damn well please." crowd.
  • 4 15
flag wobblegoblin (Jan 29, 2021 at 19:50) (Below Threshold)
 @WildboiBen: environmental impact analysis?!?!?!!!?!?! f*ck that. TRUMP WAS ROBBED!!!! TRUMP WAS ROBBED!!!!
  • 2 4
 Motorbikes and rockbouncers!! YOLO bitches!!
  • 3 1
 @unrooted: Lmao
  • 1 1
 Dude you made up all of that. Obviously you don't know what you're talking about.
  • 2 7
flag slayerdegnar (Jan 29, 2021 at 21:08) (Below Threshold)
 Can anyone give me just one example of how ebike use has shut down trail use for other mountain bikers? All of this Theoretical Fear-mongering is ridiculous. Ebikes are still not allowed on Forest Service or BLM. This bill isn't about allowing bikes on All wilderness trails, just where it makes sense and is supported by the local usfs Managers.
  • 36 0
 :@unrooted: I was on the board of Access4bikes in Marin when I lived there with the guy who started STC. I've also been reading Grimy Handshake (RIP Bike Mag) since the beginning. I respect Ferritino's opinion because I believe he came by it honestly despite the fact that I disagree with it. I'm not that much younger than Mike and I still poach, although not nearly as blatantly as I did when I was younger, maybe once a year in the very late fall as the first big winter storm approaches.

Like Mike, my opinion on this is based on facts. The losses in Montana alone this decade are almost unfathomable. I get in and out in a day leaving nothing but faint tracks on routes a backpacker would have to spend multiple nights. I don't cook or clean back there, nor do I sleep or shit.

The battle we're losing is one of perception. How many videos are linked to this site everyday of guys lazily steering around corners with the rear brake? Like it or not a "mountain biker" to a non mountain biker is a guy in a full face crushing red bulls hell bent on maximizing his impact on whatever trail he's "shredding". The mtb media, social media, the bike companies etc... all bare some blame. But aren't they just giving us what we want?

Is that what we want? I guarantee you that's how the politically active hiking pole Sierra Club activists view us. How many hits do the stories of alpine XC sufferfests get compared to the latest enduro shred edit on this very site? Those of us who want limited case by case basis W access (as provided by STC's bill) are really only asking for the privilege of suffering like a dog at a walking pace up steep, alpine trails with the promise of a few epics views and the mechanical advantage that affords us the ability to be home for dinner.
  • 4 28
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Jan 29, 2021 at 22:40) (Below Threshold)
 If anything, e bikes should get special access for trail work in the wilderness areas, but not regular bikes. Slow bikes have proven to be not efficient enough to use to access wilderness areas for trail work, while e bikes make it easy and let you save your energy for trail work. Carrying a chainsaw with a slow bike is just stupid. With the increase in severe storms and downs trees we are seeing, the federal government needs help clearing the trees on the trails and e bikes are their best friends. When the USFS approves e bike access in some areas soon, it should pave the way for this to happen.
  • 20 10
 fuck ebikes
  • 15 0
 @used-couch-salesman: totally agree. The amount of trail disgraced here has been annoying for about a year. Every time ____ rider signs with ____ brand they make an edit squaring off turns and roosting soil into the trees. Who cares? I can air down my tires and roost my driveway into the woods. I don’t get it. How about not riding like a douche so your YouTube fans stop skidding every turn into oblivion on our beginner hiking trails!?
  • 24 1
 @unrooted: firstly, apologies, I know nothing of what its like to ride in North America either actually or from an access point of view. From my perspective though based on being an MTBr for 20 years and land manager who's job it is to provide access, maintain and create new trails for MTB I have to say, having seen the direction of travel of the sport over the years and through reading through the comments here and posts like it, on balance I think I support a ban and think the article written by Mike Ferrentino (who let's face it, we all accepted previously when he talked bikes and bike tests) is well written and well argued.

The point is somethings are bigger than our need to ride somewhere. Again, referring back to my opening point, I'm sure there are places you already could ride without the need to have access to everything.
MTB used to be about going anywhere with your bike, the do it all bike, it aids adventure, I get that, who doesn't? The, 'I wonder what's over the next hill?' is strong in all of us. What isn't so strong is the adherence to rules and whether or not it's ok to ride down the other side. Regardless of what you might say from a keyboard to push your profile (not you personally), MTBrs rarely care (in my experience) about biodiversity, they only care about the ride, their spot, only its NOT your spot.

In the UK where we have legislation to protect areas, National Parks, SSSi (sites of special scientific interest) SPAs (Special Protection Area) all of which are ignored, partly because our rights of way access is all over the place in some places, not that we're beyond riding down footpaths, but in some of these sites MTBrs vociferously argue their rights to co-exist in these biodiverse areas by building jumps and their own trails. Nowadays, if you're not a builder, you know someone who is and he's your hero, cherished by your community, media and brands. That's the culture we have become and I'm the first to admit I've benefited I'm not holier than thou.

I also appreciate where we are in terms of users. We all get bored of riding the same places, word spreads online of cool new spots, the fact that it's unofficial or unsanctioned makes it cooler still, we are are consumers, this is a consumer driven sport in a consumer driven society, the landscape is there to be consumed...right? I've just spent thousands on this bike, a T5, a pick up, boarded out my van, now some bureaucrat in an office (who probably doesn't ride and therefore understand my needs to ride and create new lines) says I can't WTAF?

Ebikes only add to to it. In the UK and europe it's the fastest growing sector. I'll hold my hands up I have an ebike and a regular bike, I don't make any distinction as to where one should be ridden over the other, I love'em both. The ebike means I can ride more, faster and with ranger extender further, I get to to the top of that hill, down the other side and back up again. But its not about ebikes, it's about us and our choices.

Why should hikers and horses be allowed in? That's tough to argue, they both bring with them litter and are transported to the site with a vehicle, maybe because on the evolutionary scale they belong there, humans and animals, non mechanised once they are there.

This for me, even though it seems obviously the case, is not about personal freedoms, its about preserving something as close to pristine as we can possibly keep it. The biodiversity, wildlife etc. needs us to do it for it, those bureaucrats are probably thinking longer term, beyond the post ride beer for example. It isn't just our playground. It's not about personal freedoms, because there are already areas we can go, we just need to appreciate those more, put time in to those, support your local trail association etc in maintaining those trails.

The bottom line for me is that MTB is not sustainable, on any level, on any interpretation of the word unless we start looking at where we riding, why we are riding and what impact that has for future generations.
  • 1 3
 @5afety3rd: we need to bring in @blowmyfuse for this discussion. OH WAIT he was banned lol.
  • 7 0
 @gandalfsdad: we are are own worst enemy. Find a scrap of land and you find bike jumps. Find a jump site legal or otherwise and you find a rubbish dump. Find trails legal or otherwise and you find side trails, shortcuts, tubes, energy drink cans and sachets.
I rode a few days ago on unofficial rural trails in forestry. Middle of nowhere (from my house - lockdown!). Surprise surprise. Carrier bag, empty Monster can, empty sarnie pack, crisp packet and a Twirl wrapper. What do I do? Middle of nowhere, no pack....bagged it and hid it was the only option.
Point being we are represented by the fact we always build new stuff. Its in a bikers DNA, and then there are a consistent scruffy scummy minority. Its no different to motorbikes. I greenlane. Only when its dry. Only on legal county roads/byways and at sensible speed etc. Many don’t and the trail is heavily rutted for it ruining it for everyone. The Trail Rider Fellowship recently argued a case in the Lake District on an access mater that off road motorbikes cause LESS damage that mtb [insert many laughing emojis]. Everyone is against each other.
If your a land owner its easier to say no than put infrastructure in place.
Except....the biggest thing to ever happen to UK mountain biking was the Forestry Commission creating trail centres. As a government agency they have Crown Indemnity so insurance is not an issue. They opened up forests all over the UK. In exchange they saw a huge influx of bikers who paid for parking and went to the cafe. They got rent income from bike shops. They created local jobs where there were none around accommodation, etc. All this allowed for infrastructure for other users such as disabled access trails, pram trials, running trails, GoApes, etc. My local trail centre developed so much that mtb is now a minority user!
There is a point to note here for our American friends. Your forests are often ancient beautiful things. In the above context we are talking about managed farmed pine forests in remote areas. Good luck....
  • 6 0
 @ilovedust: You're right, on all points, especially litter and the human impact on the environment. I'll come clean (no pun intended) I work for the FC and manage a trail much like one you describe (I'm guessing Haldon, if so you're very lucky the ranger there has your best interest at heart and is an extremely competitent mtbr, not that that should be important).

I would say we're at a crossroads in the FC (this is my opinion not the official one) the Public Forest Estate is for everyone but is also the nations supply of timber and within areas that have sensitive ecological value, such as National Parks, AONBs, SSSIs, SPAs or just a nice place outside your front door that is home to wildlife as common as birds.

The lockdowns in this country has brought into sharp focus the need for these sites but the abuse of these sites. My site closed for 6 weeks during the first lockdown, March to Mid May, from that point we've since double the number of vistors by car than we did in the previous year, even in the supposed quiet months numbers were off the charts as people flocked to sites like ours for the RDA of exercise, for example for the 7 days from Boxing Day to New Years day we had 8000 cars visit site with an average of more than 2 people per car. Many with bikes, many on foot. As a result the the trail networks is worn out, play areas around the visitor hub have been worn out to the extent it looks like we've been corralling horses in there. WE have counters on our bike trails, the red graded trail record over 87,000 riders from May to December, the Blue graded trail 93,000. That's based on riders passing a specific point, so doesn't include riders sessioning or missing out certain sections.

The biggest factor though is litter and its everywhere. Everywhere we go and everywhere the wildlife goes, it's in watercourses such as rivers and ponds, left there by the public who can't immediately see a bin and baulk at the idea of taking it home with them. The thought of leaving the spot as you found it over ridden by
mild inconvenience. Their most immediate thought is to complain on social media about the lack of bins.

These aren't wilderness areas, but do represent how we view the countryside in the context of our sport, it serves one purpose, self interest. And if it doesn';t measure up we complain.

FC sites ARE initially funded by the tax payer. We get approx £20m year on year from the government nationwide, that is split across the sites funds everything at every site, forest centre or satellite woodland. Car parks, play equipment, bike trails, walking trails, buildings, research, staff pay, vehicles and buildings. And decisions are made as to what is the priority. And yet the FC makes £80m (approx) from car parking, timber production and corporate partnerships that goes back into the economy. Each site has to make back its allocated budget which is why you see corporate partnerships. So you could say the Forestry sites fund the tax payer, not the other way around.

The budget and priorities for 2020 were set in 2019, pre-covid when visitor numbers were predictable, now in 2021 we have a massive issue just down to the impact of visitors. I used to think the old guard were crazy when they longed for the days when the public weren't allowed in...
  • 5 0
 @gandalfsdad: wow. That is shocking numbers wise and very interesting. 180,000 riders (rides) is a very impactive number without any debate. Your correct in terms of Haldon and have been riding there since it was dodgy trails up the woods. I have actually stopped riding there now because its just so busy. Its a shame as its my winter riding to stop damage to the local natural trails.
I dont envy the position your in managing this especially at the moment and in the bigger context of this article, it very much says what no one wants to hear.
Keep up the good work.
  • 6 0
 @MikeyMT: So I can tell you which groups do the most damage here in the Front range of Colorado. So it just rained or snowed. Who still uses the trails here when they are most likely to be damaged? Hikers are definitely the most likely to show up and slog through the mud. People on horses are next for sure. Riding a bike in the mud here is just miserable so most of us avoid it at all costs. The only thing that does more damage to our trials than a horse is a bike with a motor and a throttle.
  • 2 0
 @gandalfsdad: bear in mind when you say "in the UK" you're actually talking about England and Wales. In Scotland our access laws are amazing, and treat users as adults. The basic rule is you can go on any oath you see so long as you won't do irreversible damage. It means everyone spreads out, spreading any erosion out more thinly and reducing conflict.

I've ridden in the US a lot, in local woods and state parks, and see no reason why the rules over there shouldn't be the same. There's just so much space.
  • 1 0
 @lukeb: Sorry, yes I'm talking about England/Wales in terms of access. In the England there's a greater concentration of people in countryside areas than there are in Scotland so the access rights work better there than they might elsewhere, I'm not saying what's right or wrong, just what might work in one place might not work elsewhere. In England there's much more urban fringe stuff, so woodlands are never far from large populations.

Also, In Scotland there's a whole tourism economy built around the outdoors, which also might not be possible elsewhere. The work done by Developing MTB in Scotland/Forestry Scotland etc. has been amazing in getting together support and laying down the infrastructure. You can be pleased you've found a way to get it right.

That being said, with a reliance to some degree on tourism, perhaps in Scotland you're affected by lockdowns in other ways, maybe your trails and unspoilt countryside areas whilst being relatively quiet due to travel restrictions may a negative effect on the local economies and long term investments?
  • 5 9
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Jan 30, 2021 at 7:49) (Below Threshold)
 @5afety3rd: You can curse and complain about e bikes, but you don't try to debate my points cause you know they are right. If you offended that I call them slow bikes, don't take it personally. Compared to e bikes on the climbs, they are extremely slow and limit your climbing ability on technical climbs. They also make carrying a chainsaw much easier. E bikes are simply at the stage 29ers were for the first few years when most people on pinkbike judged them emotionally and not rationally.
  • 3 1
 @gandalfsdad: the greater concentration of people in England is an even bigger reason to open access and spread that greater number of people out over a larger area. I always noticed this when I lived in Sheffield - if I strayed from the Peak District bridleways onto the footpaths I'd see far fewer people.

Even in Edinburgh during lockdown there are enough trails in the Pentland Hills right at the edge of the city that once you're away from the car parks you see very few people because everyone can go everywhere so spread out.
  • 6 11
flag WildboiBen (Jan 30, 2021 at 9:12) (Below Threshold)
 Man, this thread is a real eye-opener. Lots of prejudice and entitlement in the mtb community. Guess what? You aren't owed trails wherever you want to ride. And ebikes are for anyone who wants to enjoy the trails just as much as you, without judgement or gatekeeping.
  • 6 6
 @WildboiBen: right on!!!!
Public Land isn’t for everyone!!!! It is only for the few people whose voices actually matter: the rich!!!!!!!!!
  • 3 0
 @used-couch-salesman: excellent analysis! It is not a question of eBike or non-eBike but the perception the public has about MTB riders. All they see are clips about speed, ripped-up soil, full-face helmets and gamely irresponsibility.
That this is only a smaller percentage of the MTB crowd is not well known to the public. So, in a sense, we all as mountain bikers are responsible for being shut out - by hyping the wrong stuff.
  • 1 2
 @unrooted: I never said it was for the rich either. Don't know where you got that from.
  • 1 0
 @MikeyMT: "Yea I've seen those reports as well and they do seem sound. But I wonder if on the whole that holds up...? (I have no idea).."

"So lets make up an example to illustrate what I'm trying to say"

How about no.
  • 1 1
 @bman33: Yep, clearly it's far better to drive your car to the trailhead than ride a bike to & then on the trails. Cars definitely aren't killing the same environment we're trying to save at all...
  • 1 1
 @BenTheSwabian: I've come to the conclusion that ebikes make a lot of sense for commuting & to some extent trail work where you may have to pedal 20-30 miles one way (plus tools) to get work done & then still need energy to get home. Largely I agree with you though.
  • 1 0
 @gandalfsdad: Well, speaking of being environmentally responsible I do think more of us should ride to the trailhead as much as possible. It's also much better for the brain, not dealing with traffic. I would tend to argue over here that it's mostly hikers (not even hikers as much as folks who aren't typically in the woods that leave the trash--the city people that have absolutely no respect for the environment) leaving the trash. The pandemic has made this so much worse this past year, since all of a sudden everyone is 'camping' destroying more sections of woods/desert & leaving tons of trash even throwing it out of windows while driving.

I do think that there should be section of forest that should remain completely wild as in no human is allowed, & some that should be protected to the extent of foot traffic only. I think the sticking point for many of us here is that horses are allowed (talk about barrier to entry for a sport). I've seen some real entitlement among some of those folks. It is definitely a problematic topic with different trail users & we would all be better off if there was more respect between us. It's also particularly difficult with the Sierra Club's blatant hate towards MTBers. Credit where credit is due; they did save the Grand Canyon from being flooded decades ago & do seem to be involved in fighting the good fight sometimes.

Anyways that was a lot of rambling to say that those are some decent points overall & things that we should consider instead of the constant march of progress that we humans have lost ourselves in for generations.
  • 1 0
 @hlars12: That makes a lot of sense. What I would say which I wasn't aware of, is the allegation that one user group would work against another, or that a governing body would uphold one groups views at the expense of another.
  • 1 0
 Been saying this for years...
  • 1 0
 @hlars12: Not sure what you are insinuating here. However, I live half a mile or a mile to the trail head of my daily local trails depending on which one I ride. If you are referring to the ebike original comment I made, you can see I am indifferent either way. That said, living in Colorado for 10 years until recently, I saw first hand the conflicts with different user groups AND know for a fact cert users groups (equestrians in particular) who have a lot of power are look for any excuse to get MTB's banned. They particularly have called out ebikes in certain situations. So there is that....
  • 1 1
 @actonca: They are not making new trails in Wilderness Areas. They are pretty much never going to get approved. Just saying
  • 1 0
 @MikeyMT: as a person who lived in the area when all of this was happening. If those trails in Montana opened up to bikers you might get a situation similar to Created Butte.

A lottery situation might be an interesting route to take. It is definitely a solution the hunting community accept in the same area.
  • 2 2
 @JEDDE: Just watched Accomplice. I can't believe how many downvotes your comment got. People are pricks.
  • 4 0
 @DizzyNinja: Hooves tear up trails way more than mtb tread. There are sections of a local trail that become unrideable after just a few equestrians have passed through. I also own horses and enjoy a good trail ride but the argument that mtb's cause more trail damage is just ridiculous.
  • 5 0
 @MikeyMT: One of my local trails becomes unrideable in some of the climbing sections after just 3 or 4 horses pass through. Yet 50 mtb's in a day does zero noticeable damage. I own horses myself and don't mind seeing them on the trails but the argument that mtb's do more damage, even to scale, is ridiculous.
  • 2 3
 I, even tho' I love bikes fanatticaly don't want them in certain natural areas of the world, there's something about them that frightens the wildlife way beyond my understanding and I respect the home of life.
If I could ride a horse everywhere I'd ditch the biking today. Bikes don't have souls. But they have something electro-motor bikes don't have, like katana compared to a electro-teaser gun. "E-bikes" are not bycicles and will never be. MHO.
  • 4 0
 @8088yl0n: you had me with the first sentence then went waaaay into left field. Wish I could take my props back.
  • 1 2
 @WildboiBen: sorry but that's how I see things, not like it's going my way. Started riding horses before bmx so I have a spot for nature.
  • 2 1
 @8088yl0n: I was referring more to your "e-bikes aren't bikes".
  • 63 1
 Maybe this is just a relative velocity issue. Folks on horseback really don't move that fast. Hikers don't move that fast. Bikes don't go that fast uphill, but downhill they can go very fast. All it really takes is one yahoo causing problems bombing a trail in an unsafe manner to make a lot of people angry...and it would take about 10,000 positive interactions to erase that one negative interaction from hikers and horseback riders.

Maybe it just comes down to: Horse people tend to have money and get the rules they want. There's really no other way to explain how they could possibly be such an entitled group and not get in trouble.
  • 16 0
 I agree. I think if other user groups were to really put their finger on why they have a problem with MTB access, it's the speed differential between bikers and pedestrians/equestrians that scares them away from allowing us.

I think you also hit the nail on the head with regards to money. In theory, lobbying is free, but effective lobbying is expensive. User groups with the most money will eventually get the rules they want.
  • 14 0
 Inevitably, horse people end up saying "horses built these trails," which is pretty often true and a hard point to argue with. I do wonder if horses were a 21st century invention like ebikes if they would have a hard time.

Dentist bike money got nothin' on horse money.
  • 33 1
 I backpacked with my daughter into a beautiful spot in the remote Oregon wilderness a few years ago. We had the lake to ourselves the first night. The second day a trail of horse showed up with two people that stayed and the horses left. What the horses brought in was obscene: Full 10x10 pop up tent, stand up grill, 60 quart cooler, etc. It was completely redick! I am fine if a horse needs to bring a disabled person into the wilderness, but the way they are often used in this manner is BS.
  • 19 1
 @merlin33: Dang that's a huge bummer. That's pretty much my experience too, the horse thing feels like another loophole for the rich, along with grandfathered "cabins" (mansions) on national park/forest land, and speedboats on water that otherwise banned motors.
  • 10 0
 @stanks: not only banned motors, but banned all water craft including kayaks and canoes. That’s when it gets really ridiculous.
  • 9 0
 When hiking extensively in the Sierra Nevadas I saw how completely ruined horse trails were compared to MTB which were only slightly worse than hikers only trails.
  • 7 2
 ‘Horse people’ make the rules?! What is this, some sort of hybrid centaur-like species?!

I, for one, welcome our new equine overlords.
  • 4 2

“Dentist bike money got nothin' on horse money.”

Yeti: “Hold my beer”
  • 3 0
 The fact is, the wilderness act was established before mtbs existed. We can cite erosions DN trail damage studies till we're blue in the face, but the truth is this is all about perception. Shreddits, arrogant behaviors and the general "extreme" image of mtbs hurts our perception in this case. As long as people view us as people who disturb the peace, we'll never be able to gain access to these places.
  • 4 0
 This is not the main argument I have heard against mtbs in wilderness areas. The main one I have heard is that mtb tends to make wilderness areas less wild.

There are popular trails in the middle of nowhere that see tons of traffic everyday. All it takes is a little internet notoriety. A guy on a bike can easily cover 20 miles in a few hrs even with significant elevation. That is an entire day of hiking for your average person and a good effort. For those who don’t hike you often go slower downhill even if it is easier just because we are cumbersome on uneven terrain naturally. Horseback riders have gotten around this because many of them were the ones who wrote the rules and did the initial lobbying.

So I think the issue is deciding where wilderness areas should be and where natural monuments and similiar types of recreational areas should be. These lands still conserve nature but are intended to be used more routinely by mankind. I’d argue wilderness areas should be much rarer. I think Oregon is a pretty good example of having a lot of conservation, well placed wilderness areas where I genuinely believe bikes do not belong, and a lot of opportunity for recreation in the outdoors in every part of the state.

That or create a similiar system to the peak mt. Saint helens and limit the number of passes you give out any given day and year for any given wilderness area. If I am the issue and not my bike, who cares if my bike comes along with me.
  • 1 1
 Im a horse and I can agree with that. You dont know the money we have poured into our local constituents just to keep is on the good side of regulation. Sometimes we put old bike tires on our hooves and after its particularly wet go out and tromp around, then get our owners to point and shout after their next ride about bikes. People are idiots.
  • 2 0
 @FoesKnows: you're a horse? thats awesome
  • 1 0
 @cuban-b: Sure am. Are you a Yanki?
  • 24 0
 The more I think about it, the more I think we should be restricting the numbers of people, not the numbers of activities in our National Parks and Wilderness. The Olympics seem to get more and more crowded each year, and more and more reports of hikers needing rescue/evacuations seems to grow in frequency. Friends who do SAR work keep saying they're busier each year. If it truly is about human impact, reduce human impact regardless of activity.

The Wilderness Act is way past due for an update.
  • 9 0
 Agreed! Its 60 year old legislation that has good intention, but needs updating given this land (wilderness or otherwise) is being loved to death
  • 3 0
 @jmusuperman: "...reduce human impact regardless of activity."
Covid-19: "On it!"
  • 5 0
 There are wilderness areas in Colorado that get so much hiker traffic especially ear 14eers or the CT. Doesn't feel like true wilderness when your around that many people. We need permits and limits for how many people are out there
  • 1 0
 @kungfupanda: Unfortunately, I saw quite the opposite this summer in the Olympics. Aside from mask usage, I'd say the numbers were the same to continued growth.
  • 2 0
 @kungfupanda: if you show up to my local trails after 7:30 there is no parking in any of the 12 lots. All of our berms are braking bumped out like its Whistler, every slightly challenging feature was 3 different alternate lines and every switchback has a cut. Covid made my trails trash, and we can't organize and real work days to do anything other than smooth everything out to a flat, meter wide trail and fix some drainage.

Its definitely let me see what the impact is of mtb with minimal maintenance.
  • 1 0
 @jmusuperman: my comment was sarcastic-apocalyptic. As in, COVID is going to literally “reduce all human impact regardless of activity.”
  • 1 2
 The search and rescue people will really be a lot busier if they add mountain bikes into wilderness areas. Mountain bikers can get deeper in wilderness areas faster. And when they crash out in the middle of nowhere, it's going to be much more taxing on the search and rescue crews.
  • 1 0
 Agreed. Stop banging on about Carbon, its just pollution and 3 billion too many people is the issues.
  • 22 0
 I always believed that if designated wilderness has access, that access should include human powered bikes with the caveat being the trails are ridden in / hand built and remain unalterable. Knowing that would never be the case is why I'd probably agree that wilderness should be left wild. That said, existing trails should not be decommissioned based on RWA's. If the trail was there before it should remain.

@MikeyMT hit it spot on - our current trails could use a little work. Maybe we start there.

Humans just f&%# everything up.
  • 20 1
 Thanks and I really like your approach. Nobody is talking about destroying your after work jump trail. WE're talking remote areas (for now), that like all of our towns (if you live in a MTB destination) will be overrun with people, vehicles, and trash if they are opened up. Critical migration paths have already been destroyed to a point where many species have little chance of long term survival.

Make the things we already have better, instead of just opening up more land to be poorly managed and inevitably destroyed.
  • 7 0
 Yeah I think things are just in a weird halfway spot right now. As a user of both mtb and wilderness areas, if I had my way things would either be yes-all-non-motorized-whatever, or no-none-of-the-stuff-you-dont-need (no horses, no bikes, no dogs, nothing).

I know I'm gonna get hate for that dog one.
  • 1 0
 @stanks: Agreed. Horse trails are more torn up than any hiking-only trail (and most MTB trails)
  • 22 5
 If horses are allowed then bikes should be. Horses are shit dropping trail destruction machines with an annoying feature that is that they have their own brain and have a tendency to freak out. They just got grandfathered in and are supported by people with deep pockets. I'm an e-bike fan but really don't see them as viable for real wilderness anyway due to range limitations.
  • 17 1
 I think the question should be: if bikes were allowed (on the already existing trails) before it was deemed a wilderness area then why can't bikes continue on those trails? They weren't hurting it enough to prevent it from being declared wilderness. Managing the wilderness areas as individual places and not just putting blanket restrictions makes the most sense to me.
  • 2 1
  • 4 0
 Agreed. I also don’t think we should be looking at access as a binary issue on all Wilderness. New Wilderness would get much more support if it wasn’t going to ban mountain bikes. If you garner the support of mountain bikers, you’d have a whole another group advocating for Wilderness expansion.
  • 4 1
 I wish I could upvote this a hundred more times. When it comes to bikes in Wilderness, I don’t know any biker in my circles trying to get access to the Bob Marshall, that place is overrun with horses and outfitters and a lot of the trails are awful with 2-3” of moon dust from all the pack-train traffic. But if we could maintain reasonable access to trails we ride in places that are slated to become Wilderness, we would be passing more Wilderness bills and protecting more land.

It was Ed Abbey who said Wilderness needs no defense, only defenders. How many more defenders would Wilderness have if we could update/modernize the law to grandfather in bike access in a meaningful and reasonable way?
  • 11 1
 If horses are allowed then bikes should be too. The do significantly more damage to trails. E-bikes should have their own classification, but honestly as long as you are not intentionally being an idiot they seem to do little damage as well.
I hunt. I understand the idea to keep nature wild. The deer still use it regularly use the trails. Birds still seem to be prevalent. , but what do I know? I’m just. 26 year old who has lived in Idaho their entire life.
  • 6 0
 "as long as you are not intentionally being an idiot" exactly.
But, laws/legislation is written in order to prevent stupid and enforce penalties for stupid because human nature is that most people will do stupid.
“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” - George Carlin
  • 2 1
 Surely there’s some amendment where you have the right to shoot anyone who stops you going anywhere you like ?
  • 11 0
 Makes me realise how lucky we are in Scotland with our right to roam. Can pretty much ride my bike anywhere.

  • 9 0
 As a Scot living in America for 20 years I have experienced both of these extremes. Scotland is the size of Indiana and you’re free to ride where you like. America is enormous and you can hardly ride anywhere! We actually don’t know the full extent of the restrictions, it’s really sad.
  • 7 1
 William Wallace was the man! Fight the oppressors.
  • 1 0
 In Norway we have the right to roam as well, but in 2020 we saw for the first time that this got somewhat restricted. This was in Lofoten during summer vacation. The problem in Norway is that some areas are extremely popular and the amount of tourism they get is just completely insane. These areas are not geographically huge and the crowding, trail wear, lack of toilet facilities etc. have become a real problem. The right to roam is beautiful, but it also poses some real problems and challenges for the future. In my little local hometown of 1100 people, we have had over 100.000 hikers on the Romsdalseggen ridge hike the last couple of summers... That's usually over a five week span. 15 years ago you might have a few locals do the hike now and then. It's a spectacular hike and brings tourism but the amount of people, trail wear, litter, feces and SAR missions is also a part of the story.
  • 18 5
 Bike only trails. Hike only trails. Only way it's gonna work.
  • 19 0
 But then some hiker feels excluded and wants to see the world from our trails too. Happens often in areas I’ve lived, bikers make great trails, hikers start hiking them and bringing their dogs off leash to them, dog almost gets run over by mtn biker, dog owner complains and starts a petition to ban bikers from the trails they built
  • 2 0
 @DizzyNinja: now they know how we feel!
  • 9 0
 @DizzyNinja: We've got directional bike-priority trails near a hiking network (and our trails are the ones being expanded and maintained so naturally the hikers end up on our side), but our land manager has been cool about making sure people know that mtb has right-of-way. Sometimes it's tough because people are so accustomed to automatic hiker right-of-way, but dang is it fun to rail past a bunch of pedestrians with a clean conscience.
  • 2 0
 Not going to happen in wilderness (well none of this is going to happen, but this particularly). Agree in many other areas, but wilderness needs to minimize trails and overall impact to the land. That will mean riders need to take it easy on downhills where they will run into hikers, but I expect most of these trails will be the sort that attract more old guys with saddle bags than endurbros with fanny packs anyway.
  • 4 0
 @stanks: My local MTB trails have a big sign at the trailheads warning hikers that bikes have right of way. It’s great.
  • 15 7
 Horses should be banned, humans on foot is enough.

We got enough biking options, wilderness areas should be left alone. I’d like to access limited.

We’re at risk of living our world to death, let’s keep the wild in wilderness.
  • 5 1
 I agree with you entirely. I ride, built trail, member of the WMBC here in Bellingham.....I absolutely live to mountain bike and ski. With that said, I really love hiking and backpacking trails that don't allow mountain bikes. You know there is nobody going to be bombing down the trail around the corner as my dog and I are hiking up. I don't put sauerkraut on pizza. I just them each on their own.
  • 7 0
 Considering the actual situation here in Italy, I recommend you guys to really worry about e-bikes. They are extremely capable bikes, in terms of uphill effincency, and will allow un-expert people to reach far and dangerous places. In my area, during the hot season, every single weekend we ear the rescue elicopter going to save someone who could reach and try a difficult Trail. Bikes shop are selling nearly only e-bikes, to people with absolute no experience about behaving on a trail and bike handling. Considering how wide and wild is your country, I would take in consideration to ban e-bikes from wilderness areas
  • 6 0
 The land of the free, am I right? The public paying a government agency to restrict access to public land. Great stuff.

But who am I to talk. Over here you can consider yourself lucky if you live within 30 minutes riding distance of a single officially sanctioned mountainbike trail - wilderness preservation area or not. So on second thought, you guys still have it relatively good.
  • 3 0
 Come to Denmark,official trails all over
  • 6 0
 I think if you're going to protect wilderness, then ban everyone. To allow hikers, trail runners and horse riders "because heritage" and ban MTBEers simply because it's the "new kid on the block" is unfair, and undemocratic. Heritage must go suck on a lemon. It's not a valid reason. It's just a fancy way of saying "nahhhh na nan na we were here first".
  • 19 12
 Its almost like a large, heterogeneous land covering millions of acres with varying habitats, resources, and history shouldn't be regulated by a single agency.
  • 17 1
 Which agency are you talking about? USFS, BLM, NPS, USFWS, USACE?
  • 10 3
 Swamps weren't drained as promised by the clown and there's not a big enough lobbying advocacy group to overthrow the likes of the Sierra Club. It's all political BS!
  • 4 0
 Me personally, I think that the Tahoe Rim Trail got it right. There are a few sections that are hiking only in the Desolation Wilderness but most of the trails are open trails and then some are biking on even days only. So we MTB'ers can access the trail we just have to plan for an even day ride. To go a little further, there is even a section that is open to Ebikes to allow some people to access certain areas of the wilderness and enjoy the outdoors but most of it is closed to Ebike.
  • 9 5
 There is a point where the argument that "horses do more damage" should die. The amount of extra traffic that would happen if wilderness areas were open would cause irreparable damage to the ecosystem, not just the trails. Human nature is to always want more, at some point just be happy with what you have.
  • 7 5
 This 100%.
Wilderness is not intended to be a public playground for outdoor recreation. It's a slippery slope, wilderness opens to bikes and a few years pass then people start talking about user conflicts on those trails and how more, user specific trails should be built in wilderness. Before you know it people are asking for new access points to the wilderness and that wilderness is not so wild anymore.
  • 6 5
 @chacou: human existence is a slippery slope. Don’t reproduce and please kill you self for the sake of the environment.
  • 4 0
 I'm pretty sure one day of logging/mining/fracking drilling any of thoes cause more damage then the collective history of anything cycling or horse related. You guys are nickle and dimeing over the wrong things. But whatever makes you feel good.
  • 6 2
 Thank you for bringing this issue to the forefront Alicia. I've been a big supporter of the sustainable trails coalition for years now. I don't think mountain bikes should be allowed in all wilderness areas, but i do thinkand managers should examine the possibility on a case by case basis.

Too often we take our trails for granted. You don't realize what you've got till it's gone. A lot of mountain bikes (and other outdoor recreatora) take our access to trails for granted. Thanks again for the reminder.
  • 5 1
 The irony of protecting these places for people to enjoy is that most Wilderness areas are rarely fully travelled. Hikers don't hike very far, horseback riders are rare. The Wilderness trails I've seen can be overgrown due to lack of use. Mountain bikers would actually be the ones willing and able to fully explore these places. Its a shame overall. Wilderness status is mostly just about political virtue signaling and hikers not wanting to share, rather than what's sensible.
  • 4 1
 Wilderness access frustrates me, as the bill just allows local land management to decide. Local management can decide no.

If it's a close to town trail and will see lots of bikes that either damage the trail to hit people/horses, then they won't open it up. But for the trail thats very much backcountry/bikepacking type trails where you literally are seeing only a couple of people when you go for a 50 mile overnighter in there ... it should be opened up for human powered bikes.

Some trails are too fast on bikes, some trails are too muddy (in some seasons), some trails are too used by bikes/horses. But many trails are not fast, are gravely/rocky, and have almost nobody on them.

I donated a few times to Sustainable Trails, and will again. IMBA will never get another dollar from me, and I avoid any companies that donate to IMBA when I find out about it. Sustainable trails will get more money from me if they push the bill again.
  • 2 0
 Couldn't agree more on all accounts - I wish that logical rules based on 'common' sense weren't so uncommon
  • 4 1
 Storm the capitol or your state legislative bldg and demand a recount. Make wild claims like the trails are being damaged by the hoards of equestrian riders. Numbers like no one has ever seen before. You’ll need to piece together a costume that screams insanity and recruit a bunch nutters from the old folks home that can scream obscenities while frothing at the mouth .
  • 2 1
 Lol, the Qanon approach to the wilderness issue.
  • 3 0
 I originally posted this in response to a different article, but is seems just as relevant here.

"Horses can be bad especially when there is a lot of commercial ride volume, but cattle are *WAY* worse. Allowing widespread commercial grazing in "wilderness" doesn't just damage the trails, but entire drainages. It's an outdated holdover from the a bygone era where ranchers ruled the west. Unfortunately I don't see it changing in my lifetime. Frown I live in an place surrounded by no less than 5 different designated wilderness areas and the damage done by cows every year in these supposedly "protected" areas is sickening. Regardless of whether bikes or paragliders or xxx are ever allowed in Wilderness, someone should at least make an attempt to get rid of the grazing."

IMO any arguments about "protecting the pristine wild experience" in designated Wilderness areas are completely empty as long as cattle are allowed to completely trash entire valleys.
  • 16 11
 Oh the irony of "public land" being paid for by the public but not being accessible to the public.
  • 9 3
 It's accessible. Just not without approval of the approval of the managing agency. Case in point, in the Sawtooth Wilderness and Boulder-White Cloud Wilderness areas trails are maintained by the Forest Service with volunteers and support of the community. No fee is charged for parking or permits for access. Just show up. Clean up after yourself. No fires (except in specified areas). No motorized vehicles inside the Wilderness. Just peace and quiet.
  • 9 2
 Its accessible and managed to ensure it remains enjoyable/useable for the public. This is not a conspiracy, this is the way the system works.
  • 14 2
 It's open to the public, you just can't do certain things there.
  • 2 0
 This guy always votes for wilderness, he shut down the entire gallatin divide in response to some silly warrantless lawsuit against the usfs stating that the wsa was not being managed appropriately. So all those trails are gone now covered in down, uncleared lodgepole pines. No more big sky to chino hot springs via big creek epic rides.

Thanks mr bunghole Donald Malloy.
  • 2 0
 Correction. It’s CHICO. Hot springs!!!
  • 9 7
 I agree with Davetheripper. Have had 4 criminal trespass tickets for riding moto and Mt bikes where I wasn’t supposed to. The ticket starts out at 2k then u go to court and it gets reduced to $100-$200. I will continue to take my chances. F U Sierra Club!
  • 9 19
flag benjam1n (Jan 29, 2021 at 18:16) (Below Threshold)
 The Sierra Club has done more good in the world than you could ever imagine. You're a moron.
  • 7 4
 @benjam1n: not for me, maybe for your as a ultra liberal leftist, who only believes hiking should be allowed any where in the Forrest. Keep on thinking that way elitist. And please stay in Colorado and keep your ideas and politics there, we have too many of your kind moving here and changing everything to accommodate hikers, not bikes, not motorcycles not hunters.
  • 2 2
 @yamaha0249: the leftist view (the socialist view) is for land to be accessible to all, for the benefit of all. The right wing view is for access to be restricted to the few for the benefit of wealthy landowners and to the detriment of the wider public.
  • 2 2
 @lukeb: Not in America. Right wing Republicans primary interest in wilderness is leasing wilderness land to oil and gas companies. The left seems to be all over the place on wilderness and doesn't have a defined opinion.
  • 1 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: republicans generally don’t care what u do on public land. Democrats only want Sierra Club members and bird watchers to be in national forests. That’s a fight we are fighting here on the west coast, and it is only getting worse because it is only getting more liberal.
General rule in the us is replicans don’t care if u want to ride your bike in the woods, Democrats don’t want anybody in the woods except themselves.
  • 3 1
 Excellent article, Alicia. And something I’ve considered a lot lately. I hiked into the Waldo Lake Wilderness recently and noticed how, even a couple hundred yards in, everything changed.... Things got quieter, smells were different and unmistakably “old woods” .. the trees that had fallen were from the end of their natural life or other natural forces and not timber harvest. The trees that were standing were huge and majestic.
I think there is room for compromise with regard to both bikes and horses, but it should be limited for both and PROTECTING Wilderness designated areas should be our main concern.
  • 2 0
 So Basically the Sierra Club is against bikes, bicycles and bicycle related in the wilderness?

One would think that a group/foundation such as themselves (and their basic philosophy), would be fully behind MTB-ing in the 'wilderness', one would think.
  • 2 0
 I’ve walked, ridden horses and ridden bikes in wildernesses outside the USA and it makes no sense to allow the first two and not the latter. I think it’s fair to ban all ebikes (even though I ride my ebike more than my gnarly hardtail). I’m pretty the original US wilderness law was to ban motor vehicles and that it’s been misapplied to bikes.

It would be critical for bikers to only ride bikes in wildnernese and not go building trails and jumps.
  • 3 1
 I think they should consider banning hiking boots from wilderness. The big lugs really chew up the trails, and people can hike up steep grades at a faster rate which accelerates wear. While it's nice in theory that these boots will allow more people to enjoy the sport than before, we should consider the impact that an expanding user base will lead to.
  • 2 1
 Interesting article and framing. I'm not sure I would cheer on Federal land grabs as a solution simply because just one person (the President) has to sign off on it, regardless of who happens to reside in office at the time, particularly during such polarized times. At the very least, it seems to be more ideal to pressure Congress to actually do their job for once and legislate. After all, from a Constitutional standpoint that is THEIR job - it is not the job of the executive branch. Perhaps their failure to actually legislate could be why they're currently enjoying a whopping 25% approval rating, but what do I know... Anyhow, I think we're better off, generally speaking, dealing with land access issues at a local, decentralized level. As far as the Idaho and Montana trails mentioned are concerned, the next logical step is for local MTB orgs to pressure their lawmakers to amend the law to open up Boulder - White Cloud to MTBs. Just my two cents.
  • 3 1
 US is a crazy country. As far as i can see, from the other side of the pond, americans do plenty of legal (?) motorized forrest activities, but cycling in the wild not ok? Weird.
  • 2 0
 It all depends on the designation of the land you're on and who manages it.
  • 4 0
 Wow...reading articles like this is rather depressing...we are quite lucky here in Scotland
  • 7 6
 "The biggest update is that there is no real update."
So...clickbait. Wink
How about we focus attention more in developing safe bike trails in the places that we can, National Forest, BLM, state and local public lands. It would probably earn many more allies than trying to push for some pipe dream of allowing bikes in wilderness protected areas. The idea is to keep that land in as pristine a state as possible, not be a playground for outdoor recreation. I actually like that my family and I can go backpacking in wilderness and not worry about bikes, especially ebikes, on the trails.
  • 5 2
 The Colorado Sun has had some great coverage of the outdoor recreation "explosion" in Colorado, especially over the last year of the pandemic. coloradosun.com/2021/01/29/vail-pass-backcountry-use-model the winter backcountry use has been insane. Just think how "wild" the wilderness would be if all the sudden it was opened to bikes. Where's the ski lift to the top of Holy Cross bro? Wink
  • 4 0
 What is the punishment for riding your bike in a wilderness area??

Asking for a friend.
  • 1 0
 I’m guessing they would take the rider’s bike. So wouldn’t to want to find out for myself but let my friend know if you find out. He is wondering too.
  • 1 0
 I've heard of fines and or the Ranger cutting your chain.
  • 2 0

The Boulder Whiteclouds Wilderness was proposed by Mike Simpson. I personally would hate to be some guy named Bill Simpson and get blamed for Mike Simpson's actions.
  • 1 0
 I think this is important enough to put in the comments in case anyone skipped reading the article "Since the start, mountain bikes have lived in a certain gray zone in terms of definition. They’re not motorized; they are mechanized in that they provide a mechanical advantage, and they are human-powered."
  • 2 1
 Debate on the "impact" of bikes has become ridiculously skewed from reality. But IMBA would never point this out.

A 2 inch bike tire can cause zero damage to a forest of acres, let alone thousands or millions of acres. Erosion, silt, whatever from bikes is absolutely negligible compared to logging for example. And logging does cause impact but forests can heal and regenerate again and again after responsible logging
  • 1 0
 I'm sure there could be a compromise in some wilderness areas that can handle the impacts of MTB's. But a blanket policy, open access to all trails is a pipe dream, and not realistic. A few wilderness areas in CA allow dogs, so bike access could be allowed where it makes sense. Lots of public lands to shred on regardless.
  • 1 0
 All these questions about who does the most damage to the environment...when the reality is that the answer is just, humans! Surely the governments around the world should be doing a better job of educating people to leave no trace, whether on foot or otherwise. I've seen far too many hikers disposing of trash to think that they are all innocent and we (mountain bikers) are the problem...
  • 1 0
 Bikes DO NOT belong everywhere. We must allow for places to be void of our self-serving recreational desires. There needs to be places that humans collectively choose to leave alone. Instead, let us tend to what we've already disturbed. Let us care for our existing infrastructures. Refine and sustain rather than endlessly consume.
  • 2 1
 The article misrepresents the Boulder White Cloud wilderness Bill the majority of trails used by mountain bikes were specifically excluded from the three wilderness areas. While the castle divide area and Ants Basin are no longer open the epic rides like frog lakes loop, Germania creek loop and casino creek lakes loop are still open. Congressman Simpson should be commended for bringing this bill to fruition that the majestic Idaho and have been in support of since the latest 1970s
  • 1 0
 I've not used western trails and can only address what I see in Florida and the southeast. I hunt in wilderness areas here and use the Florida Trail in wilderness areas to access places I hunt. I back pack my gear in and out. I ride the st marks and Munson trails. The northern part of the appalachicola nf is becoming decreasing available to hunt because of bike trails , horse trails and off road vehicle trails. The most belligerent trail users toward hunters that I encounter are horseback riders , bike riders and some hikers. I am a member of the Florida Trail Association and have been to meetings where individuals brag about damaging hunting equipment they see along the FT. The FTA begged to put the trail through public land and hunting areas for easy access now they lobby to have a 200 yard corridor around the trail that hunters can't use. Everyone lobbies for There own personal interests. Its public land that should be available to the public. All I ask is that everyone respect each other's interests. And that during the hunting season all users wear blaze orange . Florida also has what's called a forever Florida program that involves a tax on all real estate sales that goes to buy Florida lands to preserve about 90 percent of that money goes to Florida DEP. Which operates state parks many of these lands are open to bike riders , hikers , and horseback riders. But none to hunt . I don't think that makes it a multiple use area
  • 2 2
 Open land is open land and should be regulated. That said most mountain bikes care about trails and the outdoors. Mtbs should be allowed on hiking trails unless posted hiking only and same bikes. Maybe on a state level we need more reps for bikes. Community's could be looking into trail centers for bikes only if hiking trails don't allow bikes. I think in covid times people have realized how good it is to get outside and we should embrace that and help make it better and more accessible.
  • 4 0
 Where mountain bikes go, ebikes follow.
  • 2 2
 And catch and pass them quickly.
  • 2 0
 Where is IMBA in all of this? Why does anyone still pay membership fees to the orgs when they aren't stepping up. We are lucky to have Evergreen MB Alliance in WA state.
  • 1 1
 I think several things here are worth mentioning. Sen Mike Lee is not our friend. He is the #1 anti-public lands politician in the US. His highest aspiration is for the federal government to control no western lands, and the states be given the land. Problem is the states can't run a budget deficit and will sell them after a single bad fire year. The people who buy them aren't looking to have dirtbag mtbers on "their" land. He doesn't care about MTBing, he cares about weakening the wilderness act to get dirtbikes, side by sides and more logging and mining on those lands.
Second the wildlife study utilized in this article seems the least pertinent, or picked as a weak example on purpose. I don't think we are bad because we have impact, but pointing the finger at other users, especially ones the average American loves the stereotype of "horse riders" is not going to be a winning strategy. I think saying this scientific study is BS, or doesn't apply to us is going to be the climate change deny/believe of the outdoor recreation community. And land managers are going to start using this science more as we expand our footprint. There are studies on MTB and other uses on antelope island in Utah, elk herd decline in Colorado that warrant seasonal closures no one will follow, and Tetons research with backcountry skiers that have gps units and watching radio collared bighorn sheep react.
If the MTB community wants to continue it's we want more access message, while also embracing the "f*ck you I'll build any trail I want" attitude" that I've encountered why would land managers give them more access to a more ecologically sensitive space? As a park ranger I had a guy cuss me out building an illegal trail in endangered species habitat when I asked him to at least build a sustainable trail, to which he replied I've been building trail X number of years F off.... Lots of things to sort out.
Wilderness is the least "convenient" set of regulations, but most of us live in the easiest time ever. We have more money, lighter bikes, go farther, work remotely, drive fancy sprinter vans. I do think there is value in a place that is further back in time where we have to work harder to be there and be more careful with our footprint. I've been blasted off the trail with pack stock by the MTB dude with a bluetooth raging, not sure that works in wilderness, and I think many MTBers would need better manners to operate there without confrontation, so few people know who has right of way over bikers. Many people hike wilderness to avoid bikers and have asked me to direct them to trails for that reason.
If people are interested read these, you might hate them that's fine, but know the information the other people know that are in the debate, then you aren't just repeating second hand knowledge that is scientific weak sauce.
  • 3 0
 I'm sorry I thought this was America!
  • 4 0
 I only ride park.
  • 1 0
 "Relative effects of recreational activities on a temperate terrestrial wildlife assemblage" conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/csp2.271
  • 2 3
 I don't like the idea of MTB's in wilderness because it provides easier access to remote spots that would normally need to be backpacked into. Easier access will increase traffic in those remote areas which has been shown to alter animal behavior and change the way animals use the landscape, generally in a way that negatively effects local populations of animals. Can't we leave some areas alone as a safe haven for animals to escape the encroachment of man? Then there's obviously the elephant in the room of the eMTB movement, which is a whole other can of worms to deal with if MTB's were to be allowed into wilderness. Just leave it alone, we have TONS of trails and land to build on already.
  • 3 0
 Maybe there's a way we can "wallstreetbets" these stupid rules?
  • 3 1
 There will be no easing of restrictions under a Biden administration.
  • 4 1
  • 1 0
 @WildboiBen: get a haircut hippy.
  • 1 0
 @venturalocal69: I will in a couple weeks probably. Thanks for the reminder!
  • 2 0
 A whole story for not updates huh?
  • 1 0
 I really hope we aren’t give nature a break already and big corporations better stop living
  • 1 0
 “I am against all forms of government, including good government.”
― Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang
  • 1 0
 It'll all be destroyed in Nuclear Warfare soon enough, no point in regulating what's no longer there. Smile
  • 4 7
 We really can't just let mountain bikers ride wherever the hell they want, unfortunately. Trails and mountain biking - whether they be regular bikes or e-bikes (there's virtually no difference, so sorry if that doesn't validate your prejudice against them) do in fact damage ecosystems through processes like erosion.
  • 1 0
 California - post props 65 and restrict
  • 1 0
 That is why #ionlyridepark
  • 9 8
 The land of the free!
  • 8 13
flag mandalo (Jan 29, 2021 at 12:34) (Below Threshold)
 And still home of the brave, screw big government.
  • 2 0
 Minus ‘free’ it’s just ‘The land of the...’ everyone has their own verbiage they like to fill in and everyone’s version is wrong to someone else.
But hey, MTB and metal are still here so I’m happy. \m/
  • 3 4
 Yea wild that multiple view points are considered around what to do with the land that the public owns...I know America has been canceled thanks to Trump, but this is a complicated issue that needs to be resolved in different ways for different regions/states.
  • 7 1
 @mandalo: Yeah we should open up the free market to National Forest, National Parks, National Wildlife Refuge, National Conservation Areas, National Monuments, Wilderness Areas, National Historic Sites, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Recreation Areas, National Seashores and Lakes, National Trails.....There should be a National Buyout! Screw big government. Granted some agencies were created to sell resources and management decisions don't always fall in line with my perspectives on conservation but I think what they have done is pretty alright.
  • 2 7
flag denson-91 (Jan 29, 2021 at 12:58) (Below Threshold)
 @MikeyMT: "The Public" doesn't own the land, government agencies do
  • 10 2
 @mandalo: If the government didn't protect wilderness areas there wouldn't be wilderness areas to enjoy.
  • 1 1
 @MikeyMT: I think it is an important distinction. If you owned the land, we wouldn't have this conversation, you would just ride your bike there.
  • 2 1
 @denson-91: Fair enough. But to be clear, I wouldn't given the unneeded impact it causes Smile
  • 1 1
 @MikeyMT: I thought about what I said and I think if I want to be pedantic I should try to be correct:

If you owned the property jointly with others it makes sense to say that the group must all be in agreement on how the property is used, but I still think it makes the most sense to say, the land is owned by the government and not the citizens
  • 1 0
 @denson-91: Your framing is correct. Sadly it only makes the situation more complicated!
  • 1 0
 @denson-91: of the people, by the people, for the people?
  • 1 1
 We still have a lot of awesome bike parks so.. keep hating!
  • 3 0
 @Bushmaster123: I don’t think it is much about hate. You have all this wonderful public land with fantastic landscape and, from what I understand, a vast trail system, built over centuries. But for some arbitrary reasons, you are not allowed to pedal a bicycle on them.
You have heated and sometimes violent discussions that you should be allowed to carry guns in a library, but you stop short at cycling in the wild? To someone from the outside these contradictions seem so arbitrary that it all has nothing to do with freedom, but who has the bigger lobbying group and therefore can shout louder that THEIR freedoms are being attacked, not realising or caring that others might be affected.
  • 2 2
 @mitochris: yes, hypocrisy is rampant in the USA, it’s not always clear what’s driving what.

Take a gander at the folks pushing for gun rights and you’ll find the same folks pushing for outlawing abortion.

Do as I say, not as I do.
  • 4 3
 @nurseben: Speaking of hypocrisy. The same people pushing gun control and eliminating the death penalty are pro abortion. Funny how you only see it one way. It's not ok to kill a murderer but ok to kill an unborn child...
  • 1 0
  • 3 1
 @mitochris: I agree with your latest assessment but when you lump the whole country into a singular group or mindset it comes across as hate. Would love the visit your country as it seems to get a lot of things right. Cheers.
  • 1 0
 @Ktron: It's almost as if that slogan is a lie. The pretext that this nation is enabled by consent of the governed is a fallacy.
  • 2 0
 I was taken back by your use of this study. I see it misquoted a lot from Auburn Society and others. Its attention grabbing headline aside, it found mountain biking didn't, in fact affect the birds in this study (one species of bird). Quoting from the study you sited here: "The direct impact of mountain biking on Golden-cheeked Warblers may be minimal, but the indirect impact from fragmentation and alteration of habitats from mountain bike trails may reduce the quality of nesting habitat for Golden-cheeked Warblers. In particular, Golden-cheeked Warblers nesting in habitats fragmented and altered by mountain biking trails may be more vulnerable to nest predation (Reidy et al. 2009)
and possibly encounter lower prey abundance (Jokimaki et al. 1998, Kilgo 2005). Conservation efforts that curtail construction of new mountain biking trails in Golden-cheeked Warbler habitat and reduce the amount of forest open edge habitat created by existing mountain biking trails should promote recovery objectives." The section you cited earlier is not from the conclusions section but the abstract. Its helps to read the whole study.

This ^^^ is why trail construction and advocacy organizations suggest a ratio of miles of trails to a location's ecological healthiness, including existing impacts and the type of impacts. So, for instance, the recommended trail density (note, since 2007, for a design/construction standpoint there are not hiking trails or mountain biking trails) for already compromised urban sites is 1:10, that is 1 mile of trail to acres. Urban preserves and other less compromised urban properties, 1:20. You get the idea.

My point is, just throwing in links to studies isn't helpful. An and advocate for mountain biking trails and trails access (and a civil engineer) I can tell you a lot of these studies are great to understand a situation. But they don't provide solutions. The thing is, there are solutions to most of these issues. Including the Wilderness issue (and no The STC is wrong here).
  • 2 1
 @CycleKrieg: the point isn't to provide solutions. Again, as I stated in a reply to someone else - my point in sharing these few studies I found with a quick scholar search - the impact is not zero. And there are often other stressors that can compound into more significant disturbances. Mountain biking does impact nature. These impacts need to be considered and we can't just poach and ride wherever the hell we want without consequence. And yes, I know its from the abstract - which provides a more concise summary of their conclusions than taking a snippet from the discussion section, which in its entirety is more than most people are willing to read.
  • 2 0
 @WildboiBen: Mountain biking does impact nature. Just like hiking or horse riding do. We need to put all those impacts in the proper context. And yes, solutions can be part of that context.

As an example, in a previous comment you mention erosion as a consequence of mountain biking. Erosion is movement on soil. Its a natural process. When erosion becomes an issue is when the amount of erosion surpasses the rate of natural occurrence. Before a trail is constructed or even proposed, there are ways you can reduce the amount of possible erosion from the usage of the trails: doing soil research, layout choices, understanding where armoring would be helpful, etc. Post-construction, there are management choices that can be made: trail closures for environmental conditions (rain), regular trail maintenance, refreshing the trail every 7-10 years, etc. The point of this exercise to show that its just not that simple. Saying "mountain biking does impact nature" is like saying, "kissing can lead to pregnancy". Both are true, but boy is there a lot more to it.

Providing research without the context helps no one. Especially not to mountain biking as sport. Did you know that the Midwest's own Mike Vandeman (Google if you don't know who that is), Todd McMahon, linked to this very article and specifically called out the comments: "This is really encouraging to hear from mountain bikers who post at Pinkbike." So thanks, I guess, for all of us advocates in the Midwest that now have to deal with Todd quoting studies he doesn't understand to try and stop mountain biking projects.

We all want the same thing - trails to ride and to do it in a way that doesn't harm the ecology. But to get that we have to talk about how to achieve that thing with full understanding of and description of the context behind it, not just link vomiting to slap fight some 16yr old shred bro from California.
  • 1 1
 @CycleKrieg: sounds like you get it. I wasn't posting those articles for you.

Re: erosion - yes lol obviously erosion is natural but unnatural rates can be bad. You just illustrated a point I made earlier that sustainable mtb requires research, which requires time and money. New trails cannot just be built haphazardly.

I did provide context albeit in separate comments. I could've been more effective with my communication, sure.

All the articles I shared are to illustrate a general point which I don't think I need to reiterate lol. They were all on the first page of a google scholar search, so I'm sorry but it is not my fault that Todd McMahon is using them to bolster his argument. And if you can't counter then you might just not have a strong case. Could be that you don't have enough remaining natural land or sufficient data to build new trails. I looked up Mike Vandeman. All I see is that he advocates for wildlife habitat that's off limits to people and I 100% agree, as any ecologist would. Nature always needs to come first.
  • 1 1
 They should open up BLM = Bureau and management properties to MTB
  • 1 1
 They should open up BLM = Bureau of management properties to MTB..
  • 2 2
 No I don't think so.
  • 3 5
 Just ride it and take your chances. What’s the worst that can happen?
  • 6 0
 You piss off backpackers who have connections with the land managers and MTB access in the surrounding around gets shut down since "the MTB community was unable to police itself"
  • 1 1
 Well, the attitude will become "why make more mountain biking trails" if they can't be respectful.
  • 4 7
 Wow so many people who think they're ecologists. Lots of Dunning-Kruger syndrome going on here.
  • 2 1
 I bet you smell like patchouli.
  • 2 1
 @venturalocal69: thank you. I'll bet you smell like lilac.
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