Looks like the Sustainable Trails Coalition folks found someone to front a mountain bike bill for them . . .
Two Utah senators have introduced legislation that would allow federal officials, such as U.S. Forest Service supervisors, to decide whether mountain bikes could be used on sections of trail in designated wilderness areas.
U.S. Sens. Mike Lee, R-UT, and Orrin Hatch, R-UT, are proposing the Human-Powered Travel in Wilderness Act, a bill that would change the rule banning bikes in protected wilderness, such as the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.
Mountain bikes should never be permitted in wilderness. Consider this potential scenario: A packstring is slowly making its way down through Gateway Gorge, coming off the bench from Sabido Cabin deep in the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The trail is steep, rocky and narrow and it’s a long way down to the creek bottom.
The wreck took place about half way through the gorge. Half the packstring went off the edge. Two mules went down in the bottom, floundering and flopping around with broken legs; packs and gear strewn all over; pack boxes smashed to bits. The packer luckily stayed on his mount and tried to keep the rest of the string together. It started almost instantly, with no time for the packer to even know what was happening as two mountain bikers came down from the top, hell-bent for leather, and came up from behind the packstring.
A legal change to allow bikes in federal wilderness hasn’t been introduced in Congress yet, but the issue already has advocates riled and rolling.
Last week, a coalition of conservation groups published a letter asking congressional delegations to “reject calls to amend the Wilderness Act to allow for the use of mountain bikes in designated Wilderness.” The coalition included Montana-based Wilderness Watch, Bitterroot Backcountry Horsemen of Montana and North Fork Preservation Association, among others.
They aimed their concern at proposed legislation drafted by a national mountain-biking group called Sustainable Trails Coalition, which also claims members in Montana. STC President Ted Stroll said the bill would move the decision about allowing bicycles in wilderness or proposed wilderness areas to the local forest supervisor level, instead of the national agency headquarters. It would also allow federal land managers to use mechanized and wheeled tools to maintain trails in federal wilderness.