U.S. Senator Jon Tester of Montana introduced S. 507, “Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act” in Congress on March 2. The BCSA is the product of a 10-year, collaborative solution negotiated between timber management, conservation and recreation interests that has earned the support of partners across Montana’s Blackfoot River valley. The International Mountain Bicycling Association is a partner in the project.
“We could not have supported any proposal that closed the door on the unique and cherished mountain biking in this landscape,” said Dave Wiens, IMBA’s new Executive Director. “IMBA heartily thanks Sen. Tester for his leadership and commitment to mountain biking, outdoor recreation and this collaborative process that benefits Montanans.”
Mountain bikers have scored a big win with this legislation that protects critical current and future mountain bike access to several cherished trails, claimed IMBA in a press release. It also creates a process and timeline for new trail connection proposals that will provide long distance, alpine loop rides in these same areas. The bill also expands the wildlife habitat protection along the Bob Marshall Fringe and takes steps to proactively mitigate user conflicts between cyclists and equestrian trail users.
“It’s amazing to see the mountain bike and Wilderness communities come together and emphatically support the same proposal,” said Ben Horan, the Executive Director of Missoula IMBA chapter. “The collaborative process that resulted in this legislation has clearly demonstrated that the recreational trails and traditional conservation communities have more in common than we sometimes realize.”
Mountain bikers have worked hard for a seat at the table during this process, added IMBA. When proposals that led to the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project started being developed nearly a decade ago, mountain bikers were not included.
“But today, with hard work and partners committed to win-win solutions, we know these positive working relationships have produced a winning result for recreation and mountain biking in Montana, and will live on as an example for mountain bikers and wilderness advocates in other parts of the country,” added Aaron Clark, IMBA Conservation Manager.
For mountain biking, this bill includes maintaining current access for bikes on the Spread Mountain, Center Ridge, and Camp Pass trails. In addition, the BCSP agreement includes support for building two new connector routes to create loop trails. Other trails, which present the potential for conflict between equestrians and bikers, will be closed to bikes as part of the agreement.
“BSCP has always been about collaboration and this agreement demonstrates again our commitment to including all interests,” said BCSP steering committee member and Ovando rancher Jim Stone. “We are pleased to secure the support of Montana mountain bike leaders, and look forward to working together to see our made-in-Montana proposal signed into law.”
For information on IMBA’s partnerships and negotiation process with BSCP, read more here. For information on BCSP’s approach to public land management, read more here. See a detailed map of the proposal here.